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The Almighty Buck

Dell Closes Ireland Plant; 2nd Largest Employer 494

Posted by kdawson
from the raining-under-this-tree-too dept.
Wide Angle writes in with a PBS report on tough economic news from Ireland: Dell announced that it will relocate its manufacturing plant in Limerick, Ireland to Lodz, Poland. "Dell's announcement... is a severe blow to the Irish economy, which has been hit hard and fast by the global economic crisis. Dell is Ireland's second-largest corporate employer and the country's largest exporter. Nineteen hundred shift workers will lose their jobs. ...Dell's closing is not a result of the economic downturn, but of a pattern all too familiar in the United States — corporations' perennial search for cheaper labor. Since 2000 several companies, such as Procter & Gamble, Intel, Gateway, and NEC Electronics, have moved manufacturing jobs from Ireland to China, Eastern Europe, and elsewhere. When Poland joined the European Union in 2004, it became an attractive place for companies to set up manufacturing plants. ... However, Ireland has managed to maintain and attract... 'knowledge-intensive jobs.' Google's European headquarters are based in Dublin, and Facebook announced late last year that they would locate their international headquarters there. But the overall economic picture for Ireland is bleak."
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Dell Closes Ireland Plant; 2nd Largest Employer

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  • by Foldarn (1152051) on Friday January 09, 2009 @12:11PM (#26387439)
    There once was a man from Nantucket...
    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by lymond01 (314120)

      Being from Nantucket, I don't get the joke. I even read the article (imagine that) to see if there was some reference. In fact, being a native of Nantucket allows me to charge you 50 cents for each use of the word "Nantucket" (it's actually $3000, but we divide the royalties up amongst the entire population -- 50 cents is just my cut). However, if you can pull some strings to get us our own statehood (which we've tried for before) or our own nuclear missile base (from "Boston Legal"), I'll let my 50 cent

      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by Foldarn (1152051)
        Originally it was an innocent joke. Now it's just a really vulgar limerick! http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/There_once_was_a_man_from_Nantucket [wikipedia.org]
        • by hierophanta (1345511) on Friday January 09, 2009 @12:53PM (#26388099)
          There once was a man from Nantucket
          Whose dick was so long he could suck it.
          While wiping his chin,
          He said with a grin,
          "If my ear were a cunt, I could fuck it."


          --- and here is the extended version of the original ---

          There once was a man from Nantucket
          Who kept all his cash in a bucket.
          But his daughter, named Nan,
          Ran away with a man
          And as for the bucket, Nantucket.


          part 2:

          But he followed the pair to Pawtucket,
          The man and the girl with the bucket;
          And he said to the man,
          He was welcome to Nan,
          But as for the bucket, Pawtucket.


          part 3:

          Then the pair followed Pa to Manhasset,
          Where he still held the cash as an asset,
          But Nan and the man
          Stole the money and ran,
          And as for the bucket, Manhasset.
      • by Shakrai (717556)

        In fact, being a native of Nantucket allows me to charge you 50 cents for each use of the word "Nantucket" (it's actually $3000, but we divide the royalties up amongst the entire population -- 50 cents is just my cut). However, if you can pull some strings to get us our own statehood (which we've tried for before) or our own nuclear missile base (from "Boston Legal"), I'll let my 50 cents slide.

        Hey, you might not have your own state but you did have your own TV show [wikipedia.org]. That's more than my hometown (which has 20 times your population) has ever gotten ;)

      • Re:There once was... (Score:4, Informative)

        by Trapick (1163389) on Friday January 09, 2009 @01:46PM (#26388955)
        The town's name is "Limerick". Most common limerick? You guessed it, man from Nantucket. It wasn't all that funny, but that's the joke.
    • by gnick (1211984) on Friday January 09, 2009 @12:36PM (#26387833) Homepage

      There once was a company called Dell,
      Who saw their costs starting to swell,
      Labor in Lodz
      Attracted their jobs,
      So they told the Irish, "Go to hell".

  • by bugs2squash (1132591) on Friday January 09, 2009 @12:15PM (#26387499)
    Perhaps Eire should have factored in that companies agile and willing enough to relocate once to Ireland would likely be sufficiently agile and willing to move to follow the sun again.
    • by Anonymous Coward on Friday January 09, 2009 @12:20PM (#26387573)

      Everyone in Eire with half a brain knew this was coming anyway...
      Those relatively low tech manufacturing jobs were only ever going to be useful as a means of bootstrapping ourselves into a properly high tech economy.
      Not sure the government knew this, but everyone smart working in tech did.

      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by ardle (523599)

        Not sure the government knew this, but everyone smart working in tech did.

        I'd say that the government put it on their "let's not think about that" list and concentrated on making money before the bubble burst.

    • by spun (1352) <loverevolutionary@@@yahoo...com> on Friday January 09, 2009 @12:35PM (#26387791) Journal

      This is what happens when capital and goods can freely cross borders but people can't. Capital will simply chase poverty in a never ending circle around the globe. When one poor, desperate country starts to get wealthy, corporations will simply move to the next one, and let the first slip back into poverty.

      • by Shakrai (717556) on Friday January 09, 2009 @12:48PM (#26387993) Journal

        This is what happens when capital and goods can freely cross borders but people can't. Capital will simply chase poverty in a never ending circle around the globe. When one poor, desperate country starts to get wealthy, corporations will simply move to the next one, and let the first slip back into poverty.

        So what's the solution? If you get rid of the restrictions on people moving you destroy national sovereignty and identity. If you get rid of free trade/adopt protectionism you drag the economy down a few pegs and probably destroy at least as many jobs as you save.

        I hate what we've become but I'm at a loss for how to fix it. Ideas?

        • by Anonymous Coward on Friday January 09, 2009 @12:54PM (#26388113)

          You say "destroy national sovereignty" (and all of the restrictions therein) like it's a bad thing.

          • by Shakrai (717556) on Friday January 09, 2009 @01:05PM (#26388301) Journal

            You say "destroy national sovereignty" (and all of the restrictions therein) like it's a bad thing.

            You see restrictions where I see freedoms. Globalization has already created a race to the bottom for labor and environmental standards. Will our freedoms and rights be next in line? Will the United States be forced to adopt European restrictions on free speech [computerworld.com]? Will Europe be forced to adopt Islamic restrictions on free speech [outsidethebeltway.com]? Will the United States, Finland, Switzerland and Norway be forced to adopt stricter gun control laws?

            • The individual states are really countries in their own right since they can make their own laws, taxes etc. USA is very much equivalent to Europe in that both are federations. US federal law can override state laws and destroy the sovereignty of states so it is very hard to say that we don't already have a picture as to how things might pan out.

              As for Globalization, well USA is the current global top-dog expecting many other parts of the world to behave as it sees fit. We're probably a long way down this t

            • by causality (777677) on Friday January 09, 2009 @02:41PM (#26389773)

              You say "destroy national sovereignty" (and all of the restrictions therein) like it's a bad thing.

              You see restrictions where I see freedoms. Globalization has already created a race to the bottom for labor and environmental standards. Will our freedoms and rights be next in line? Will the United States be forced to adopt European restrictions on free speech [computerworld.com]? Will Europe be forced to adopt Islamic restrictions on free speech [outsidethebeltway.com]? Will the United States, Finland, Switzerland and Norway be forced to adopt stricter gun control laws?

              What really bothers me about governments and large organizations in general is that they fail to understand the saying, "no matter how far down the wrong path you have travelled, turn back." Governments almost never say "this sounded like a good idea at the time but it's just not working, things are getting worse, time to abandon this idea and try something else." If they do say that, it's over the course of decades or sometimes centuries even though the knowledge of better solutions (or at least that this solution isn't working) has been around for a long time.

              I wish there were some type of initiative/referendum that citizens could use to challenge laws, not because they are unconstitutional or otherwise legally invalid, but because they have failed to deliver the results that were promised. If there were a way to get rid of otherwise legally valid laws that can be objectively proven to be counterproductive, not because enough voters put enough pressure on the legislators to repeal the law, but because at least one citizen can rigorously prove that it has failed, this would represent real progress.

        • by Idiomatick (976696) on Friday January 09, 2009 @01:17PM (#26388523)

          Well they are both part of the EU so gp is wrong you can move from ireland->poland for free.
          Secondly, It is a GOOD thing that business' chase poverty! Something shitty happens to a country and big countries move in which will act to save their asses. Ireland will not become poorer than Poland because of this, as the summary says they are retaining higher paying post-secondary jobs. This could be rewritten to show how ireland is moving up in the world. Now they don't NEED the Dell jobs (atleast not as much as Poland does). This if left unfettered causes an equalization of wealth. Which is a fair thing, a good thing unless you happen to currently live at the top.
           
          We on /. like to bitch about India stealing our jobs but really they need them more than we do. Think of it like global charity except they have to earn the money.... and it is involuntary. Try to see some of the good :/

          • by Bertie (87778) on Friday January 09, 2009 @01:41PM (#26388859)

            Actually Limerick's at least as much of a poverty-stricken dump as many places in Poland, and stuff like this will only make it worse.

            Ireland has seen a lot of development and increased prosperity over the last while, but things like this show how transient that can be if you're too dependent on outside sugardaddies providing that prosperity. It's easy come, easy go for the organisations providing the jobs - if somebody else turns up with a bigger development grant and a workforce with lower wages, moving won't cost them a thought.

            The trick is to take the inward investment and use it to build up your skills base so that ultimately you can stand on your own two feet, but that's a whole lot easier said than done. Places like Taiwan have done it rather beautifully, and Estonia, financial troubles apart, seems to be on the right track, but it's tough.

            • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

              by ckaminski (82854)
              Unfortunately, local governments usually give huge tax breaks to corps looking to set up shop - so you lose that ability to bank "found" money and foster local industry growth.
        • The basic problem (Score:5, Insightful)

          by Moryath (553296) on Friday January 09, 2009 @01:57PM (#26389123)

          The basic problem is that "free trade" never is.

          "Free trade" concerning commodities that are easily made (or grown) in an area, like tropical fruit towards northern climates, is one thing.

          "Free trade" based on paying workers shit wages, or based on the fact that one country (*coughmexshitcocough*) has absolutely crappy evironmental protection laws while their neighbors don't, doesn't - it temporarily drives down "costs" while ensuring that the environment gets ruined and poverty is taken advantage of.

          The solution is "fair trade" instead - place tariffs on any and all imported goods from countries whose labor protection and environmental laws are inferior to our own, such that the cost to produce them there and them import is the same (or better yet, slightly more expensive) as doing the production either here, or in a country with proper worker and environmental protection standards. If the USA/Canada/European countries would do that, then the countries with shit worker protection and environmental laws will have to fall in line and we can actually get things addressed.

          • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

            by u38cg (607297)
            The funny thing is, none of these people have to work for low wages or as sweated labour; they are quite free to spend their days scavenging rubbish dumps for scraps of food. It's hardly taking advantage of someone to pay them the going rate as opposed to letting them starve in the streets.

            Your proposal is to take us back to the 1930s, which, if I might remind you, didn't work out so well. It took a long time to unwind the economic impact of protectionism. Imposing these standards on trading partners r

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by bugs2squash (1132591)
        I think that Irish citizens could move to Poland if they wanted to.

        Besides, what you say is to be applauded, eventually the corporations will move around to even the poorest contries. Then the only way they will be able to make themselves poor again is by waging war or grossly mismanaging their governments (per the US model).
      • by Eunuchswear (210685) on Friday January 09, 2009 @12:56PM (#26388143) Journal

        This is what happens when capital and goods can freely cross borders but people can't.

        Both Eire and Poland are in the EU, free movement of people is guaranteed. If the Dell workers want to keep their jobs they can just move to Lodz.

        • by YesIAmAScript (886271) on Friday January 09, 2009 @01:37PM (#26388789)

          "Eire and Poland"?

          Why half pedantic?

          You mean Eire and Polska I guess. Or as most of us know then, Ireland and Poland.

          • by meringuoid (568297) on Friday January 09, 2009 @03:53PM (#26390883)
            You mean Eire and Polska I guess. Or as most of us know then, Ireland and Poland.

            There is actually a good reason to use the Irish name here: it makes it clear that you refer specifically to the Republic of Ireland, not to the island of Ireland as a whole.

            • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

              by Tibor the Hun (143056)

              Cut him some slack man, we may be slashdotters, but we're still mainly american. And you know how well that bodes for our expertise in geography.
              Hell, I myself thought he was talking about the lake, not the country.

        • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

          Both Eire and Poland are in the EU, free movement of people is guaranteed.

          Free movement of goods, money and companies is guaranteed. Free movement of people is certainly not [irishtimes.com].

        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by Manchot (847225)

          Both Eire and Poland are in the EU, free movement of people is guaranteed.

          That's easy to say, but not so easy to do. Consider the following:
          1. Moving usually incurs a huge cost, both in terms of time and money. When you're moving out of the country, those costs are multiplied.
          2. Moving is stressful, and most people don't like forcing that on their family.
          3. The social costs are high. You'd be leaving your friends, most of your family, and basically everyone you know behind. There's a reason that most people live within driving distance of where they grew up.
          4. You'd have to l

      • by lee1026 (876806) on Friday January 09, 2009 @01:04PM (#26388283)

        Problem is, the number of poor countries that are stable enough to invest in is not large, and once a country becomes a wealthy, it rarely slides downwards very far. Thus, this should end relatively soon, as soon as corporations run out of countries.

        • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

          by DigiShaman (671371)

          It's called Global Economic Equilibrium. I agree that this migration should end (eventually), but I wouldn't say soon. The main factor will be if a nation losing jobs will still retain enough capitol to create new ones in their place.

    • Ireland's primary draw is that they have the world's lowest rate of corporate income taxes that I know of - something like 8%.

      Unfortunately, this illustrates that while tax breaks are nice, the cost of labor is still king.
  • Shorter commute (Score:3, Interesting)

    by motek (179836) on Friday January 09, 2009 @12:18PM (#26387539) Homepage

    I suppose it is only reasonable. Now all these Poles who already work there will have much a much shorter commute. Good for them.

  • AOL was in Dublin for a long time, and they moved to Waterford, and then Waterford lost out. Soon the only tech place in Dublin will be eBay - if they count?
    • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

      by D4MO (78537)
      Microsoft, Google, Facebook, Symantec, Oracle, Yahoo, Havok... I'm sure there's more...
  • by HockeyPuck (141947) on Friday January 09, 2009 @12:22PM (#26387589)

    We the consumer, demand cheaper priced products, why should we be surprised when manufacturers look for methods of reducing their costs? You don't exactly see them firing up manufacturing plants in Tokyo or Manhattan.

    It's a Global Economy, get used to it.

    • by _Sprocket_ (42527) on Friday January 09, 2009 @12:33PM (#26387751)

      We the consumer, demand cheaper priced products, why should we be surprised when manufacturers look for methods of reducing their costs? You don't exactly see them firing up manufacturing plants in Tokyo or Manhattan.

      Corporations also demand more profit. Reducing costs helps that bottom line. Whether moving manufactoring locations ends up positive on that bottom line or not isn't always clear at the outset.

      It's a Global Economy, get used to it.

      It's been a global economy for decades. That's not the change.

  • Is it really the case that a company that hires only 4300 people is the *second* largest corporate employer in Ireland? That 1900 people losing their jobs is a "severe blow" to the economy of an entire country? The population of Ireland is somewhere around 6 million - what does every *else* do there?
    • by Chrisq (894406) on Friday January 09, 2009 @12:24PM (#26387609)

      The population of Ireland is somewhere around 6 million - what does every *else* do there?

      Farm potatoes and brew Guinness.

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by Deag (250823)

      Well the Republic of Ireland is closer to 4 million (the north is part of the UK). There is about 2 million working I believe. 4 million - children - old people easily gives you that.
      It says corporate employer so that rules out all public jobs. And in Ireland that means most education and health.

      Most major companies would only have one major location in Ireland, so even the big ones are a few thousand. So it is easily believed. You'd only need a 1000 companies employing 2000 people to employ the whole count

      • Re:Numbers seem odd (Score:5, Informative)

        by MoellerPlesset2 (1419023) on Friday January 09, 2009 @01:12PM (#26388441)

        Actually they're not the second-largest corporate employer. That seems to be an incorrect inference on the part of the Washington Post, because the Dell Ireland website claims they're the second-largest *corporation*.. and the metric for that could easily be something other than employees, i.e. revenue. Of course, 1900 people isn't their entire Irish workforce either.

        There are _definitely_ larger employers in Ireland. 1900 people at a single factory is enough to sustain a mid sized factory town of about 30,000 people (1/3 of Limerick). I know because I've lived in one. And I'm certain Ireland has a handful of towns that size and larger.

        But just to grab some random Irish companies out of a hat and look them up: Eircom has 6,500 employees. Bank of Ireland has 16,026.

  • Good for Poland (Score:5, Insightful)

    by exhilaration (587191) on Friday January 09, 2009 @12:23PM (#26387605)
    Poland has very high unemployment rate [boston.com], one of the highest in Europe, and is also one of the poorest countries in Europe [propertywisebulgaria.com].

    I realize that this sucks for Ireland but Poland is in far worse shape and needs the jobs just as badly if not more.

    • by Improv (2467)

      It sucks to give Poland a feather for its cap while it's under the thumb of such a pair of opportunistic bastards though.

    • by cathector (972646)

      > Poland .. is also one of the poorest countries in Europe

      slight clarification:
      that link says that Poland is one of the poorest countries in the EU.
      i think Moldava and other European countries not in the EU may be poorer.

  • What rhymes with Limerick?

    ...
    he had such a limp dick
    he sold plants in Limerick
    and sales went right straight to Hell.
  • Make 'em pay (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Frosty Piss (770223) on Friday January 09, 2009 @12:26PM (#26387645)
    The fact is, since China has the unfair advantage of near-slave labor, the rest of the world as a whole needs to have stiff import tariffs to equalize this imbalance.

    This really shouldn't be completely about the "world economy" and if it can be done cheaper in China, "why not"? It is completely fair to take into account other factors such as China's complete disregard for workers rights and environmental issues, not to mention truth in labeling with regards to all the poisons they put in food products.

    Make 'em pay, it's the only way to get their attention.
    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      It's just as completely "fair" to say "the hell with the rest of the world, we'll just make them locally".
    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      The fact is, since China has the unfair advantage of near-slave labor, the rest of the world as a whole needs to have stiff import tariffs to equalize this imbalance.

      Yeah! Because stiff tariffs worked out so well [wikipedia.org] in the past.

    • "Near slave labor?"

      China has major human rights problems, but coerced labor in its manufacturing sector isn't one of them. They do seem to be responding well on environmental issues recently, and they took the consumer health / quality errors very seriously.

      I see the trade imbalance driven by a deceptive ideology in the West that said that manufacturing was passe, that we could thrive with a "value-added" economy in which the West managed brands, did high-end conceptual work, produced "experiences", etc., w

      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by IanHurst (979275)
        "China has major human rights problems, but coerced labor in its manufacturing sector isn't one of them. They do seem to be responding well on environmental issues recently, and they took the consumer health / quality errors very seriously."

        Thank you. Waving your hands at "Chinese slave labor" as a way to dismiss competition really grates at this point. Xenophobes: would you at least get your anti-China biases into the 21st century? Ain't slave labor at all. Employment in China is overwhelmingly volunta
  • 1900 doesn't sound like a lot in respect to being the second largest employer. I suppose not knowing the population of Ireland off the top of my head, I can't say for certain (I just looked, 6 Million). So I guess I'm still a little surprised that 1900 is the second largest employer. Am I wrong that that seems surprising?

    On the side of people out of a job/paycheck, 1900 is terrible.
  • by 0racle (667029) on Friday January 09, 2009 @12:34PM (#26387771)
    Scares them, doesn't it. But they didn't learn; you don't put all your potatoes in one basket.
  • Less taxes. (Score:5, Insightful)

    by diskis (221264) on Friday January 09, 2009 @12:35PM (#26387805)
    The 10 year discount is up. That's why they are moving, and Dell isn't the only corporation doing this. Ireland has a low corporate tax, and discounts it even further for the first 10 years a corporation operates there.
  • by GPLDAN (732269) on Friday January 09, 2009 @12:36PM (#26387811)
    There once was an old man of Esser,
    Whose employment prospects grew lesser and lesser,
    It at last grew so small
    He had no job skills at all,
    And now he's a college professor.
  • This is economic development, and is good news, although I appreciate that it won't seem like that if you are one of the people laid off.

    The reason Dell were in Ireland in the first place is because Ireland was the cheap labour centre of Europe. As they've developed, it's no longer true and their economy has been replaced by a knowledge economy. In many ways, cheap-ass manufacturing leaving your country because the labour is too cheap is a complement. Next, the same cycle gets to happen to Poland. Everyo

  • I think Obama mentioned that he wants to yank tax breaks away from companies that export jobs, and give breaks to companies that create jobs here in the U.S.

    That's a good first start. But how about we start putting huge tarrifs on shit that should be made in the U.S. but is coming from Poland? Send a clear message that cheap labor isn't the best way to make money.
  • by WindBourne (631190) on Friday January 09, 2009 @01:28PM (#26388643) Journal
    Dell shut down all their plants in America and shipped them to China. Your plant is remaining in Europe. Personally, I have quit buying Dell.
  • by rewter (189441) on Friday January 09, 2009 @01:34PM (#26388731)

    Hey guys I am from Poland and guess what? I can more or less speak english and even know how to post on Slashdot.

    And there's more. We do embedded software and hardware here, we know Linux and it's been that way for years already.

    So it's not different compared to where you live. And as for dell, easy come easy go. They won't stay here longer than 3-4 years and eventualy will continue moving east.

  • Who cares? (Score:4, Insightful)

    by PinkyDead (862370) on Friday January 09, 2009 @01:44PM (#26388909) Journal

    Ok, maybe that's a little blase, but there are two points that have to be considered here:

    1. Ireland is not nor never has been a manufacturing country. Sure there have be some manufacturing companies such as Dell, but essentially Ireland is a combination of a strong agricultural and tourism in rural areas with technological and financial bias in the urban areas. Dell is nice to have, and I feel sorry for those that have lost their jobs in Limerick - but it is not a core industry, even if it is a core employer.

    2. Ireland has been growing at an incredible rate over the past 10 years, far faster than anyone could possibly hope to adapt to. Looking at the government's actions over this period, they have acted like lottery winners, squandering the growth to create an ever-burgeoning public sector. Coincidentally, the National Competitiveness Council in Ireland established that our competitiveness has deteriorated by 32% over this period. This loss as well as others is a good wake up call - and an opportunity to regroup and establish a firmer foundation for the future.

    It is also important to note that Dell is not leaving Ireland - they are closing their manufacturing plant. Ireland's corporate tax rate is still extremely attractive to US companies.

  • Parallels (Score:3, Funny)

    by g8oz (144003) on Friday January 09, 2009 @01:53PM (#26389065)

    Like Bush, Micheal Dell did not forget Poland.

    Thank you I'll be here all week.

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