Covidien moves manufacturing to Thailand, raising spectre of job losses at Irish facility

Ireland

Covidien plc’s (NYSE:COV) decision to shift one arm of its manufacturing operations to Thailand could leave more than one-third of its Irish workforce without jobs.

The Mansfield, Mass.-based med-tech giant plans to shift one of its manufacturing divisions in Ireland, which produces endo-tracheal tubes, to Thailand over the next two years.

The announcement raised the spectre of unemployment among the nation’s press.

"A GLOBAL health care firm is moving one of its Irish manufacturing lines to Thailand, where companies can hire 15 workers for the price of one here," the Irish Independent reported.

The move also got the attention of the Irish Services Industrial Professional & Technical Union, which obtained assurances that no one would be laid in the near future.

"After meeting management we received assurances that there will be no redundancies at the company before the end of next summer," SIPTU organizer Frank Jones said in the union’s press release. "This gives the union time to fully explore with the company all possibilities for maintaining the maximum number of jobs at the Covidien facility in Athlone."

The shift is being made in order to improve long-term viability in the Athlone operations, Covidien’s VP of public relations Bruce Farmer told MassDevice via email, but the facility isn’t going anywhere.

"As a facility with a strong manufacturing operations track record and a vital R&D function, Athlone will continue to be an important part of Covidien," Farmer wrote. "We have an experienced, capable, long-serving workforce, and our site has a strong health and safety and regulatory record. Covidien remains committed to maintaining a significant presence in Athlone and Ireland."

The company employes about 1,500 across Ireland.

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