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Celtic Tiger loses stripe as job losses mount

February 16, 2011

By Staff Reporter

By Andrew Bushe

DUBLIN — Despite the continuing strength of the economy, a series of job losses in the first weeks of the New Year have caused concern about the future as low-cost countries poach from high-cost countries and the U.S. economy slows down.

About 500 manufacturing jobs vanished in just 24 hours last week, but it is profits warnings by high tech industries and sluggish demand for personal computer that pose the biggest risk.

Gateway, the world’s second-largest direct seller of PCs, plans to cut 10 percent of its workforce after announcing a global loss of $94 million.

An appraisal of cost-cutting options is being undertaken at the moment and is expected to hit the Irish operation — which employs 1,600 — at the end of March.

A software company in Galway, Saville-ADC, has also announced it is laying off about 30 of its 200-strong workforce as a result of the U.S. information technology industry downturn.

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Ireland has become a virtual 51st state of the U.S. in recent years as huge investments have poured in from some of the top names in America’s computer hardware and software industry.

About 260 workers are to lose their jobs in the American-owned Thermo King engineering plant in Dublin. It decided to base its manufacturing operations at its factory in Galway. It produces transport temperature control systems and has 5,000 workers worldwide, with offices in 15 countries.

The outdoors clothing manufacturer Lowe Alpin, is also closing, with 220 jobs going at their plant in Tullamore, Co. Offaly.

In Ballina, Co. Mayo, the American-owned Henninges Elastomers injection-molding car components factory is to be phased out over seven or eight months with 170 redundancies. The company blamed wage inflation and freight costs. The raw material is imported from Germany and then re-exported to the European market.

The American parent company, Gencorp, decided to transfer operations to Germany and Eastern Europe. Another 50 service and subcontracting jobs in the area will also be lost.

The factory was set up in the town 11 years ago and some families have several members working there. It will mean a loss of wages and spending to the area of about £6 million a year.

While the new BSE "test or cull" program for the cattle industry is gearing up, there are also worries about job losses in meat plants as the mad cow crisis of confidence in Europe hits export sales.

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