Redundancies Continue at High Levels

4 Jan 2007

The Irish National Organisation of the Unemployed (INOU) is concerned at the outturn for redundancies in Ireland in 2006. 23,684 redundancies took place in 2006, a 2.3% increase on the previous year. Qtr. 4 (6,360) was the highest quarter since Qtr. 2 of 2005. For the fifth year in a row, we have had annual redundancies in excess of 23,000 or an average of 470 jobs lost per week. A total of over 122,000 have lost their jobs since 2002. Over one-third of the redundancies in recent years have been in manufacturing, which has continued its long-term demise in the Irish economy.

While employment growth has been very impressive in recent years, this cannot continue to mask the very poor redundancy statistics. Given the ongoing job losses in manufacturing and in other sectors, the current level of redundancies is likely to continue. Jobs lost have, in the main, been replaced by jobs in construction and in service industries. These jobs will not be continually available in future, especially construction. It has been well flagged that construction employment is well above sustainable levels and that correction of this will lead to increased unemployment.

In addition, the world economy could be reaching a downturn period, which would have negative repercussions for an open economy like Ireland’s. Our export performance has been poor in recent years, which has been attributed to our high cost base and rising inflation. Growth in this area is needed in the medium future to make up for the reduced impact of construction and SSIA expenditure on the Irish economy. The very large US current account balance and exchequer deficit must face correction at some stage in the near future – this will impact on Ireland with its exposure to the US economy, including many US multinationals operating in the country. Rising interest rates, increased oil/energy costs and a high euro value will also hit Irish business and jobs.

With increased levels of unemployment recorded in the last Quarterly National Household Survey - 104,800 unemployed representing 4.8% of the labour force and 10.5% youth unemployment – the INOU is worried that these figures could get worse during 2007. “We must redouble our efforts to maintain the successes of combating unemployment in the past”, said General Secretary Eric Conroy. “Under the auspices of Europe, we should operate our National Reform Programme to achieve the best possible Lisbon Agenda targets by 2010”, he added. While we are doing well on employment rate targets, we must improve in a number of other areas. These include early school leaving to address youth unemployment and higher levels of Life Long Learning/retraining/upskilling to reposition redundant workers for new jobs. We must increase our R