I thank the Deputies for raising this matter.
The Minister sends his apologies that he is unavailable to take this Topical Issue. He is currently leading a trade mission in the Gulf and India to grow the export markets of Irish companies and ultimately create jobs in Ireland so it was not possible for him to be here with the notice given of this debate.
I am very conscious of the anxiety that the announcement of job losses by the company concerned at its operations in Coolock creates for the workers there. The Minister has been engaging with the senior management of the company and has urged it to reconsider this decision. It is not a case of taking it for granted. He is urging management to reconsider the decision. He has also asked whether there is anything the State or its agencies can do to mitigate its effects. The company has pledged to support departing workers with placement services. The company has indicated that it will also work closely with workers in an effort to ensure that the impact of this decision is minimised to the greatest extent possible and to discuss investment it will be making in Ireland in order to build a stronger business here for the long term.
As the Deputies will be aware from their meeting with the Minister in his Department, he established an inter-agency group on 3 March to co-ordinate the Government's response to the job losses at the company. The group is chaired by Enterprise Ireland and membership includes the local enterprise offices, IDA Ireland, the education and training boards, the Department of Social Protection and the Citizens Information Bureau. I know the Deputies also requested another meeting with the Minister and I am sure that invitation is on his desk.
The group is seeking to secure alternative employment for the areas affected and also to ensure that departing workers have access to supports that they need from State agencies for retraining, access to social welfare supports, access to advice on employment rights and access to advice and support for those workers who might intend to start their own businesses. The first meeting of the group was held on 18 March.
The inter-agency group is open to meeting with the company's representatives and staff and has made an invitation to meet these parties through the company's management. In this regard, last week, the local management team met with employee representatives from the Coolock site in an effort to facilitate a meeting between staff representatives and the inter-agency group. I understand that the management has requested a meeting between the inter-agency group and staff representatives. The inter-agency group has suggested either 5 or 6 May for a meeting with staff representatives in Coolock and I understand that it is awaiting a response from the staff representatives regarding the suitability of these dates. The Deputies expressed a view here today that this date is too soon so I will make sure the Minister is aware of that as well. Enterprise Ireland has had meetings with the company's management on a weekly basis since the news of job losses broke. The agency has also visited the sites at Tallaght and Rathmore in Kerry to examine the potential for business opportunities.
I should also point out to the Deputies that Ireland has a robust suite of employment rights legislation which offers extensive protections to employees. The National Employment Rights Authority, NERA, is mandated to secure compliance with employment rights legislation. NERA information personnel are available to meet staff of the affected companies, either individually or collectively, to discuss their employment rights, including matters related to redundancy. The workplace relations customer service section can be contacted at lo-call 1890 80 80 90 or via its website at http://www.workplacerelations.ie, which provides extensive information on employment rights. It is important that people are always informed of their rights. I would like to inform the Deputies that, if required, the State's industrial relations machinery is also available to assist the parties concerned in any way possible.
Employment growth continues to be the primary objective of this Government and we have been working hard to create the economic conditions which will support existing jobs as well as the creation of additional new jobs. Through the series of action plans for jobs, this Government has focused on creating a supportive environment for businesses operating in Ireland. Our target was to create 100,000 new jobs by 2016 and we have already created 90,000 of those. More than 35,000 extra people are at work today in Dublin compared to three years ago. Almost half of these extra jobs are supported by the Department of Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation through Enterprise Ireland and IDA Ireland. A range of manufacturing companies supported by the Department through its enterprise development agencies are currently hiring in the area. In terms of new initiatives for job creation, Enterprise Ireland activity is focused on the creation of new jobs through continuing to work with established companies in its portfolio, including, of course, the company in question. The agency is also supporting entrepreneurs in manufacturing and internationally traded services companies which are setting up high potential start-up companies.
The local enterprise offices, LEOs, are the first-stop-shop for support to anyone wishing to start or expand a business, focusing on the micro-enterprise sector - those with ten employees or less. They pull together all the players - other Government Departments and agencies - to support everyone with a good business idea and to strengthen the enterprise sector in the local area. The LEOs can provide information, advice and guidance on the range of State supports to enterprise and signpost customers to the appropriate contacts across the various agencies that provide them. For businesses in the manufacturing or internationally traded services sectors, the LEOs can provide direct financial support to develop or implement a business idea. For other sectors, the LEOs may be able to provide non-financial supports such as specific and tailored business training or mentoring to help a business to develop. Each LEO is also active in developing local networks and other activities and events that bring business people and entrepreneurs together as a means of supporting each other.
The four LEOs in Dublin are available to support anyone with a business idea and who wants to consider entrepreneurship as a career option. I urge anyone who was made redundant or who is in danger of losing their job to make contact with their LEO to explore available options.