Bulmers shed 25 more jobs but company say cider production will continue

Eamonn Lacey

Eamonn Lacey

One of South Tipperary’s flagship industries has been dealt a massive blow following the decision by C&C to close down the commercial section of Bulmers that was located in Clonmel.

Most of the twenty five jobs in Clonmel will be lost with some people to be given the opportunity to transfer.

In the wake of the announcement, C&C rejected reports that the company plans to move the production of Bulmers and Magners cider from its Clonmel plant to Scotland.

The company said reports that C&C was planning to move production of Bulmers and Magners from Annerville to its Tennant’s brewery in Glasgow were ‘without foundation’

“C&C is committed to its manufacturing site in Clonmel and views it as a key manufacturing site. This will remain the case into the future, although naturally the group will continue to make commercial decisions, which may or may not impact the Clonmel site into the future,”

The company did confirm that some commercial staff in Clonmel would be made redundant with the company implementing a plan to integrate the commercial team at Bulmers Ireland with the commercial team of the Gleeson Group which was acquired by C&C last November, with the transfer of staff scheduled for completion on June 28.

According to a C&C spokesman, there are about seventy staff on the Bulmers Commercial team including personnel employed in sales and marketing, with twenty five based in Clonmel and the majority based in Dublin.

“There will be a number of redundancies as a result of this transfer of Bulmers commercial staff but no number has been specified yet,” said the C&C spokesman.

The spokesperson said that the group would now enter into consultation with the employees affected by the change. It would only be after this period of consultation that the group would be in a position to confirm the number of redundancies, the spokesman said.

Last November C&C acquired the Gleeson Group in a deal with €58million when C&C paid €132.4million and took on Gleesons debt of some €45.6million resulting in an expansion in C&C’s workforce in Ireland from over 200 to 800. The Gleeson Group was established by the Gleeson family in Borrisoleigh in the late 1960s.

Bulmers staff in Clonmel were transported to Dublin last week and informed by C&C management that it planned to integrate the commercial team at Bulmers Ireland with the Gleeson Group commercial team with the transfer of staff scheduled for completion on June 28.

They were told that the integration was necessary to safeguard and protect as many jobs as possible following the acquisition of Gleeson. It is expected that up to forty staff from the Bulmers commercial team may be made redundant. It is expected that most of the redundancies will be on a voluntary basis.

Deputy Seamus Healy said that any job losses in South Tipperary werea serious blow to families and the local economy.

South Tipperary and the South East is the worst region for unemployment in the country. Unemployment in South Tipperary has trebled over the last few years and now stands at over 9,000.

“In fact the county has been forgotten by this government. The government needs to stop the austerity and stop taking money out of the economy by wage and welfare cuts and tax increases. This policy is producing more closures and more unemployment”.

Independent TD Mattie McGrath slammed the clonmel job cuts as “a disgraceful and cowardly move” by the owners of Bulmers, Clonmel.

“What was once a proud and solid indigenous production operation has since the takeover by C&C become a pawn in a grab for profit at the expense of a loyal and hardworking work force, many of whom have given decades of service. I am calling for an immediate meeting with the Managing Director Mr Paul O’Sullivan to seek a commitment that everything that can be done to reverse this totally unnecessary decision will happen as soon as possible.”

“C&C have done everything to give the impression that they are actively engaging with staff as these savage cuts proceed. The reality is however that staff were unilaterally informed of the decisions without any consultation. Recent times have seen a massive expansion of the Clonmel operation and this has been matched by equal vigour on the part of staff who have helped power the growth of the company in recent times. It is shameful therefore that such an effort now seems to have been met not with a renewed commitment to the staff but with a choice to prioritise profit at the expense of those who helped generate it. I have huge concerns that this may represent the first step in the process of totally transferring operations to Scotland. To that end it is imperative that senior management agree to meet local representatives to see what can be done to salvage this situation,” concluded Deputy McGrath.

Brian Cleary CEO of Clonmel Chamber said that the job losses were regrettable and that the Chamber had sought assurances about the future of the plant on the Waterford Road.

“Bulmers has long been regarded as one of the best places to work in the county and the announcement of the job losses is regrettable. The development of Bulmers and Magners Cider and its subsequent success in the marketplace is in part attributable to the efforts of staff in Clonmel. I am sure that what they have achieved will not go unnoticed by possible future employers. After all, the brands are some of the most visible and popular in the Irish and international marketplaces”.

The Chamber CEO said he was glad to see that C&C had issued a statement assuring people that cider production would continue in Clonmel. “Rumours had been circulating in the aftermath of the announcement of the job losses by C&C and I am glad that the company has stated its intention to maintain production at the Annerville site. While Bulmers and Magners are part of the industrial landscape of Clonmel, Clonmel is also a pivotal part of what makes these products a success. The products are inextricably linked with the town and we, as the largest business organisation in the county, would oppose any efforts to shift production away from the town” said Cleary.

The announcement also highlighted the lack of support given to the area by the IDA, according to the Chamber. “Over the last number of years the IDA has neglected Clonmel and South Tipperary so much so that in 2012 only 10 new IDA jobs were created in the county while over 6000 were created in Dublin. Job losses such as those at C&C are not being matched with positive job announcements for the area and the IDA need to put Clonmel and South Tipperary back on their radar” according to Brian Cleary.