Updated: 19/10/12 : 08:30:03Printable Version
The 180 Abbott workers threatened with redundancy could possibly avail of the European Globalisation Fund (EGF), Independent MEP Marian Harkin has said.
"The fund is normally triggered when redundancy figures are greater than 500 workers, but there is a provision in the legislation where in small labour markets or in exceptional circumstances - if the redundancies have a serious impact on employment and the local economy - then a Member State can apply where the numbers are less than 500. This clause has already been triggered by Lithuania in 2009.
"Having looked at the unemployment figures in Sligo over the last 6 years it is clear that a strong case can be made. For example, in 2007 there were 1915 persons on the live register in Sligo, by 2008 this had climbed to 3005 persons and by August 2012 it had reached 5116.
"Only the unfortunate phenomenon of high emigration has prevented these figures from being even higher. While there are no regional emigration statistics, national figures show an increase from 80,000 in April 2011 to 87,100 in April 2012.
"Taking all these numbers into consideration along with the national and local economic situation, I believe we have a reasonable chance of accessing funding from the EGF for these workers.
"This Fund can be used for retraining, upskilling, or to provide aid for starting businesses. When administered efficiently, it can provide a personalised package for each worker.
"In the context of the 175 jobs promised in the new Abbott pharmaceutical manufacturing facility, perhaps some of the training could be linked to upskilling some of the workers for these jobs," she added.
Harkin, who is currently drafting European Parliament legislation for the future of the EGF, concluded that "I have today written to Minister Bruton and his Department urging them to start working on this immediately so that when the workers eventually do become redundant we are ready to proceed with an application to the EGF".