It was a night of mixed emotions at a packed public meeting in Ardara in the Nesbitt Arms Hotel on Fiday night as it was revealed that up to 50 jobs will be saved the fresh produce section at Gallagher’s Bakery, Ardara following confirmation of the sale to a local concern.
However, many attending the meeting expressed both anger and frustration as it emerged that the remaining 140 jobs had been lost and would be transferred to Dublin.
They were extremely angry that they had learned of the loss of their jobs in the media and also the fact that they were allegedly being denied union representation in negotiations with the parent company, IAWS/Arista.
Announcing that the 50 jobs had been saved, Stephen McCahill said, “Of course we are delighted that these jobs have been saved but the loss of 140 jobs is 140 too many.
“We don’t need state training agencies coming down here offering training - we don’t need courses. We need a real job initiative that will get this community working again and I will be requesting all state agencies to come down here to Ardara - to talk about jobs, real jobs - not training.
Grainne Mc Geidigh, board member of Udaras na Gaeltachta told this newspaper, “I understand what this is like - I have personally experienced it and it is devastating, like a bolt out of the blue.
“The workers in this company should be allowed union representation to negotiate on their behalf. The company should have no fears.
“These job losses are touching the whole community in a profound way and the probability of knock - on effects are devastating”
Thomas Boyle who just last week closed his premises The Greenhouse with the loss of ten jobs said, “Up the street there is a pub and a shop and pubs wit the lights switched off and ten people sitting at home - that was my livelihood.
“I thought it would stand the test of time - it has been in the family for over 60 years and I have invested in it constantly.
“With all the legislation in this country my business has just been decimated.
“At one stage I had 15 people employed but the so-called success of the smoking ban, the drink driving checkpoints on the mornings after, the below cost selling and the rates all combine to maybe business impossible for the small man.
“To the politicians here tonight - I am disappointed in you. I am 50 and I am out of work. I can’t add much more.” Sean Watters said, “I am a married man with three children and 55 years of age - what does the future hold for me.
“What really puzzles me is the fact that in the frozen food section we were never as busy - our order books were full. They can talk all they like about exchange rates. Its as simple as this, they just wanted out.
“I am angry over the way we were treated, they way we were told - they just look on us as numbers.
MEP Pat ‘the Cope’ Gallagher revealed that he had been in discussions with both sides throughout the week and said, “I was talking to both sides and was prepared to travel to Switzerland to negotiate.
“I am delighted that we have been able to preserve up on 50 jobs and it is now up to us to leave no stone unturned to find replacement employment for the rest of the workers.”
The meeting was attended by former workers, concerned business interests and representatives from all major parties and it was agreed that they would all meet again within the month to assess the progress.