MINISTER Willie O'Dea today described Dell's decision to cut up to two-thirds of its Limerick workforce a "massive blow for the region", and said it is now the Government's job to "minimise the fallout as best we can."
The American computer giant is expected to confirm early in the New Year that it is to drastically reduce its manufacturing operation in Limerick, at a cost of over 2000 jobs.
Minister O'Dea and Enterprise Minister Tanaiste Mary Coughlan travelled to Dell's Texas headquarters last week in a bid to persuade chief executive Michael Dell to retain the Limerick operation.
However, it is understood that the company has decided to relocate the bulk of its manufacturing operation to Eastern Europe and Asia.
Though some jobs are expected to be retained in research and development, it is feared that fewer than 1,000 jobs may be saved out of the current workforce of over 3,000. More than 1500 Dell employees at Cherrywood in Dublin are unlikely to be affected by the move.
Minister O'Dea told the Limerick Leader that it was too early to state exactly how many jobs are to be axed. He said that Dell will make an official statement on the job cuts in January.
"Dell is a company operating under commercial realities, but it is still a massive blow for the region. It is now the Government's job to minimise the fallout from this as best we can," the Defence minister said.
Dell had been considering the future of the Raheen plant as part of a global review of its manufacturing operation. It is understood that only a small amount of laptop production will remain in Limerick.
The affects of the cuts will have a considerable effect on both the local and national economy. Dell paid a wage bill of more than €140 million to the local economy last year, and is the country's largest exporter.
Meanwhile, 50 workers have accepted voluntary redundancies at the Element Six plant in Shannon, with a further 40 expected to avail of the offer this week. The industrial diamond manufacturing firm formerly known as De Beers announced earlier this month that it was seeking to reduce its workforce by 150 in order to cut costs. An initial deadline of last Friday had been in place for staff to avail of redundancy, though this is likely to be extended.