I call Senator Finucane on the matter he wishes to raise under Standing Order 30.
Matter raised under Standing Order 30.
Kantoher Chicken Products has been synonymous with industry and providing worthwhile jobs in the west Limerick area. The Kantoher area has been involved for some time in poultry production. Yesterday's announcement by the Kerry Group that the factory will close on 4 March left many surprised. There were certain rumours and speculation throughout Christmas that the company was in difficulty. However, many people were still surprised by yesterday's announcement. Many of those affected by the 138 job losses gave an entire lifetime to working with the company. Management and those working on the production side are now confronted with looking for alternate employment.
It is well known that the poultry industry is experiencing difficult times. With the dramatic increase in imported poultry products, many companies are finding it difficult to compete. Many insist when job losses occur that task forces must be sent into the affected area. However, a building is all that will be left in Kantoher, as the jobs will be gone. In fairness to the Kerry Group, it gave ample notice to the workers. It is providing an out-placement service to advise workers of other employment opportunities in the area. It has offered alternate jobs in the Listowel and Charleville plants. However, the Kerry Group cannot quantify the number of jobs that will be created by this effort. The jobs at the Listowel plant will be seasonal and will not address the long-term opportunities the Kantoher workers want. A certain number of jobs will be provided at the Charleville plant with the expansion of cheese strings production there. However, one cannot be sure how many of the 138 affected workers in Kantoher will finish up in alternate jobs or redundancy leading to unemployment.
It is a regrettable situation and my heart goes out to the workers and their families. Having given long-term service to the company, they are now faced with unemployment. I know these concerns have been articulated elsewhere. I hope other expanding industries in west Limerick area will have opportunities for the Kantoher workers. I am not sure what anyone can do to provide an alternative within the existing plant. The Government must be made aware of this situation. In recent weeks, there have been other job losses in other counties. However, one feels the impact when it happens in one's own county and one knows many of the people involved.
When is it proposed to sit again?
On Wednesday, 2 February 2005 at 10.30 a.m.