30/10/2007

Invest Locally Call As Seagate Staff Get Redundancy Details

As staff at the doomed Seagate facility in Limavady received details of their relatively generous redundancy terms, there have been promises of support in finding jobs and retraining - and a call to shift job creation funding to indigenous businesses.

Seagate workers being made redundant are being offered six times the government minimum statutory pay off and will walk away with an average of more than £20,000 each.

Workers were told by management today they will get six weeks' pay per year of service - provided they remain in their jobs until next July.

Those on average pay will walk away with around £2,860 for each year they have worked at the company and with the average length of service eight years by next July that means average pay-outs of £22,880.

With that issue settled, Employment Minister Sir Reg Empey has said the NI Executive will do all it can to help workers find new jobs.

"I am making arrangements for my department to provide assistance through our district and local offices and local employer contact team," he said.

However, recalling how Seagate has received £12m from Invest Northern Ireland and its predecessor IDB since 2001, one politician has suggested such money could have been better-spent supporting local businesses.

DUP MLA Robin Newton, who is a member of the Assembly’s Enterprise Trade and Investment Committee, has firm views: “Perhaps the heavily subsidised 900 jobs that are now to be lost in County Londonderry with the closure of the Seagate plant, could have instead been several thousand jobs that remain permanently within Northern Ireland given a different investment approach.

“Home-spun business might not be ‘as sexy’ as international investment, but in the longer term, it’s more likely to be sustainable than global names such as Seagate within Northern Ireland’s economy.

“International investment is very welcome, but has proved to be transient. Remember DeLorean and the tax payers’ money that was pumped into that debacle?

“Suppose the funding paid to Seagate to move here in the first place had been directed instead to helping maintain our once thriving indigenous textile and apparel industry?

“Would an employer who is part and parcel of the community from which the workforce springs been as quick to take the business to the Far East for a total of 60 cents less per unit in production costs?

“I don’t think so, and would call on the Minister, Sir Reg Empey to consider these thoughts and look instead to making more of our own commercial and industrial expertise and so maximise the kind of entrepreneurship at which hard-nosed local business men are best.

“After all, the very employment opportunities that are now being sought to replace the jobs lost by the unfortunate staff at Seagate will be almost entirely in the local marketplace – so why not give them the £millions in the first place?” concluded the MLA.

Meanwhile, East Londonderry MLA George Robinson said he hoped the company would offer employees redundancy packages which reflected their hard work and loyalty.

"We are fairly confident from a management point of view that they will do their best to look after each and every worker," the DUP representative said.

The American company has had a base in Limavady for the last decade.

However, it has a plant in Malaysia which is due to start operations in the new year.

It will make the computer components currently being made in Limavady.

(BMcC)




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