STAFF made redundant from the Andersen plant in Rathkeale are set to benefit from a $2.5m package of supports for retraining, education and starting new businesses.
The Government has approved an application under the European Globalisation Adjustment Fund (EGF) for the 170 staff who lost their jobs when the jewellery manufacturer closed its plant in Rathkeale towards the end of last year, as well as other unemployed young people in the area.
Local TD Dan Neville, who has been working on the application since before Christmas, said the funding would be made available immediately.
“The main cohort to be assisted comprises the workforce made redundant in Quarter 3 of 2013 from the Andersen Ireland Limited jewellery manufacturing plant in Rathkeale, of whom almost 70% are female. The remaining cohort is made up of young persons under the age of 25 years in the same region, which has suffered considerable social and economic disadvantage, and who are not currently in education, training or employment,” said Mr Neville.
Following negotiations which started before Christmas involving Mr Neville, former staff at the plant and personnel from the Department of Education and Skills, it was agreed by Minister Ciaran Cannon that a funding application would be made. And, while it still needs to be approved at European level, Mr Neville said it was “very likely” that it would get the go ahead, particularly given the considerable time and effort involved in preparing the application. Funding will initially be provided by the Irish exchequer which will then recoup the money from Europe.
The fund will run until May 16 2016. It will include a wide ranging programme of occupational and career guidance, training, second and third level education courses, a contribution scheme to assist with the cost of taking up training and education places and enterprise supports for those seeking to set up their own business.
The EGF was used to assist workers who lost their jobs when the Dell plant closed in Raheen in 2010. It was also used to assist former Waterford Crystal workers.
“The EGF has been a valuable fund for Ireland in assisting vulnerable workers made redundant by the adverse impacts of globalisation. Ireland has a good record in securing approval of its programmes and in our use of the fund to date.
“We look forward to assisting many of the redundant workers at Andersen Ireland Ltd and from the young unemployed cohort back into the labour force as quickly as possible with EGF support,” said Mr Neville.
The programme will be launched within two weeks in Rathkeale and all training, education and enterprise supports will be outlined in detail then.
Meanwhile, the agents responsible for selling the Andersen plant in Rathkeale have confirmed that this Friday, May 23, is the closing date for expressions of interest from potential buyers. Ciara McCarthy of DTZ Sherry Fitzgerald in Limerick said that they have had a “few different parties making inquiries”. The receiver will assess all the offers once they are submitted.