Wednesday, 15 July 2009
Paudie Coffey (Fine Gael)
I welcome the Minister of State and welcome the opportunity to discuss this important matter. I wish to share time with Senator Cummins.
I ask for confirmation that an application has been made by the Government to access the EU globalisation fund. The EU has established the globalisation fund, worth over €500 million per year until 2013, to pay for retraining and reskilling where there are large-scale redundancies. The scheme was first available to companies with a workforce in excess of 1,000 but that number has since been reduced to 500. The 600 redundancies at Waterford Crystal, therefore, qualifies for EU help.
The Government sought this help for the 1,900 workers in Limerick who were made redundant by Dell in January. The formal application for cash was made in mid-June. On 3 July the Commissioner for Employment, Social Affairs and Equal Opportunities, Vladimír Spidla, visited Limerick. It seems the EU and the Government are fast-tracking this application. There is a good chance that €20 million will be available to former Dell workers to acquire new skills. I am glad to know some measure of hope is being offered to the people of Limerick. My interest is in the people of Waterford and the south east. Will the Minister of State clarify if the Government has applied for assistance for Waterford from the EU globalisation fund?
There is a shocking contrast between the Government's concern for Limerick and its total failure to help Waterford and the employees of Waterford Crystal. Waterford cannot wait. It has been hit more than most because of high dependency on the manufacturing sector. This is seen in widespread redundancies across many employers and manufacturers in Waterford, such as Waterford Crystal, Bausch & Lomb, ABB Transformers, Honeywell and many others. I hope the Minister of State will confirm the Government is working in the best interests of the workers of Waterford and that it has applied for the assistance of the EU globalisation fund.