THERE is concern in Mountmellick after workers at the town’s biggest employer were told that they will be put on a three-day week.
Some of the 60 employees at Standex Ireland Ltd received the news last week that their hours are being reduced because of “market softness”.
Kevin Egan, the company’s general manager for Ireland, said: “Unfortunately, due to market softness, we have planned to temporarily institute a shortened work week for some of our employees at the Mountmellick plant. We do expect market conditions to recover and ultimately return to a more typical schedule of production.”
Mr Egan said that the position with the company was “very temporary,” which was down to “a quieter than usual period”. He also said that a reduction of working hours had happened before, but that was many years ago.
The IDA-backed concern celebrated four decades in Mountmellick last year and a special anniversary dinner acknowledged the contribution of its employees over that period.
The company, which manufactures pump components, was established in the town at Davitt Road in 1978. That year, it employed 28 people, but due to increased demand for its products, a second premises opened in the nearby Mountmellick Development Association (MDA) Business Park in Irishtown.
The pump components are used in coffee machines, cold drink dispensers, kidney dialysis machines, reverse osmosis systems and x-ray machines at the company’s Davitt Road premises, while the pumps are assembled at the MDA facility.
When Standex first opened, annual production was about 50,000 pumps, but last year that figure had increased to 250,000.
Some of the employees who received news of a shortened working week have been with the company for more than 30 years, and three of them have been there since 1978.
Over the past number of years, the company has taken on staff in the sales, engineering and quality departments.
Commenting on the company’s announcement, local Fianna Fáil councillor Paddy Bracken said: “I have been informed that there will be no job losses. The company, I am told, is experiencing short-term trading difficulties, which they feel can be overcome. I understand that they are in negotiations with the workers’ union on the issue.
“It is, however, concerning for the employees and for local businesses in the town, especially in the run-up to Christmas. Standex has been a great employer over the past 41 years and I’m quite sure that they will overcome their short-term problems and turn the company around again.”
Standex Ireland Limited is part of the Standex International Corporation, whose headquarters are in New Hampshire, USA. It has manufacturing plants and distribution centres throughout America, Australia, Brazil, Canada, China, Mexico, India, Turkey, South Africa, Singapore and Europe. The company currently employs 5,100 people worldwide.