Up to a hundred workers at Honeywell’s turbo component factory on Waterford’s Industrial Park are to lose their jobs before year’s end.
The announcement, on Wednesday, comes just months after 40 part-time workers at the plant were let go.
A statement from Honeywell Transportation Ireland Ltd, which established here in the 1970’s, informed the workers that it would start consultations with employee representatives on a plan to reduce its workforce “by between 85 and 100” by the end of 2008, “initially on a voluntary basis”.
Inferred is that if there are insufficient volunteers, compulsory redundancy will be applied to shed the required number.
Honeywell said it was taking the initiative in an effort “to maximise its global supply chain footprint” and remain competitive in an increasingly cost-sensitive business segment.
Honeywell Turbo Technologies is recognised around the world as a leading manufacturer of engine boosting systems for passenger cars and commercial vehicles, and has forged global partnerships with automotive manufacturers.
“Honeywell turbochargers offer the very latest in boosting technologies to improve vehicle performance and driveability while increasing fuel efficiency and reducing emissions”, the company claims.
The company has three plants in Waterford altogether, Turbo Technologies being the main one, employing 530 people.
General Manager Mr. Michael Morrissey was unavailable for comment while TEEU Assistant General Secretary Mr Finbarr Dorgan confirmed that he would be meeting with the company in two weeks time to discuss the proposals and engage in detailed negotiations.
A major blow
Waterford Fine Gael Senator Paudie Coffey described the development as a major blow for the workers of the flagship company and also for the city and county. He urged Honeywell to ensure those who left were well looked after.
He accused the government of having taken its eye off the ball in relation to the manufacturing sector. Waterford, heavily reliant on that sector, had already suffered significant job losses at Waterford Crystal and elsewhere.
“Despite having a government minister, Waterford has been overlooked in terms of new high quality jobs and a factor in our failure in that regard is the absence of a regional university, which we are being unfairly denied”, he commented.
Sinn Fein City Councillor David Cullinane said the Honeywell announcement represented very bad news, coming hot on the heels of job losses at Waterford Crystal and uncertainly in manufacturing elsewhere. “It is worrying as Waterford and the region already has one of the highest unemployment levels in the country and we cannot afford to continue leaking jobs”, he remarked.
While acknowledging the effects of external forces and the downturn in the market, he emphasised that Waterford had been good for Honeywell. The workforce had built up a solid reputation for its products worldwide and those efforts should be rewarded with significant investment and a commitment by management to minimise losses here.
Finally, he called on Trade and Enterprise Minister Mary Coughlan to intervene on behalf of the workers.
Labour TD Brian O’Shea called on Minister Coughlan to ensure that every assistance was given to the relevant state agencies so that the company could adapt to the changing market conditions.
He also wants the affected workers to be facilitated in terms of up-skilling and retraining to help them regain employment in the same sector.
He also made the point that the Honeywell announcement served to highlight the necessity for a university, so that local research and development capacity was enhanced and in order to attract additional foreign and indigenous investment.