BOSE FACTORY CLOSURE

Six of the redundant workers at the Bose factory Carrickmacross  Photo: © Michael Fisher

Six of the redundant workers at the Bose factory Carrickmacross Photo: © Michael Fisher

LAST DAY AT BOSE FACTORY 

140 Jobs Go as Production Ends after 37 Years

Michael Fisher  Northern Standard Thursday 28th May p.7

It’s the end of the line for production at the Bose factory. It brought great expectations to Carrickmacross when it opened in 1978.  The plant provided final assembly for select home theatre systems and radios for the European market, as well as some remanufacturing for the region. It was chosen by the US company because of the local expertise in furniture making. Bose developed wooden cabinets for their high-fidelity speakers and these were sourced in County Monaghan.

Today at 4.30pm the machines will be silent and 140 workers will clock off for the last time. People like Pat McNally, who was there on Day 1 and spent his working life there.

THE WORKERS

Pat McNally

They were good employers to work for, Pat McNally told me. You worked hard and you certainly earned your money. The US-based company and helped local people and they would miss Bose. The closure decision was announced without warning in January and was originally to take effect at the beginning of April. But following intervention by union representatives along with government Ministers, the closure was postponed for several weeks to allow time for talks on redundancy terms. Pat McNally said it would take a few weeks for the effects to hit home. It meant that 140 wages were no longer going into the local economy. It would also have a knock-on effect on suppliers and the likes of couriers who had benefited from contracts with Bose.

Five of his six family worked here: four daughters and one son, and his wife spent fifteen years in a job there. He felt there was a great family atmosphere in the factory, where he worked in the receiving goods section. As it was a ‘closed shop’ in those days, he joined the union just before he started (then the ITGWU, now SIPTU) and has been a member ever since. He says it has been a pleasure working in the place, with everyone looking after everyone else. Pat has been one of the main fundraisers for charity helping to raise IR£75,000 for the Childrens Hospital in Crumlin and then taking part in activities to help the Friends of Carrick Cancer. The Bose factory with the help of  very supportive management raised over €1.2 million so far for this charity, a great achievement.

Aidan McMahon from Inniskeen was among nine married couples working for Bose. His wife Sandra who is in quality control was there for 25 years and he was there for 16 years. The couple are in their 40s and have three children to support, two young boys aged three and five, and a fourteen year-old daughter.

Aidan told me Sandra had been successful in obtaining alternative employment in Dundalk, one of only 20 former Bose employees to have found a new job. He also told me that any hope of obtaining assistance for retraining from the EU globalisation fund, as had been suggested by at least one MEP, had now faded as it applied only to companied with over 500 workers. The SIPTU representative Jim McVeigh visited the plant on Monday to reveal the bad news. There was further disappointment for workers when they discovered that if they were successful in obtaining places on higher education courses, their social welfare stamps would be used up, although they had originally been informed that this would not be the case. This arose from a measure in the last budget.

Aidan McGarrell from Magheracloone is 31 and was a Bose employee for eleven years. A married man, he has four children between the ages of three and ten. A very young family to provide for and a mortgage to pay. He was a lead machinist at the plant and joined the US-based company after spending some time working on cars. He described Bose as very good employers and said everyone enjoyed working for them. He thought he had a job almost for life when he started work at the plant.

Jennifer Cassidy from Corcuillog in Carrickmacross joined the factory after leaving the St Louis Convent in the town. She was with Bose for 27 years, working initially on the factory floor and then in the training department. She has three children, a 14 year-old boy who attends a local school, a daughter aged 22 and another son aged 25. Over the years Bose has provided employment for her brothers and sisters, cousins and other relatives. She was annoyed at the way the announcement was handled in January and since then there had been a lot of broken promises about a possible replacement industry.

Mai McCarthy from Carrickmacross was a line operator at Bose for over 12 years. Previously she had worked at Lissadell towels outside the town (now Wrights). She finds it hard to believe that this is her last day. She always felt Bose was a great company to work for and she had enjoyed going in to her daily work. She has three children, a daughter and two sons, all in their 20s and living in Australia because there were no jobs for them in Ireland. She might have to consider emigration herself, if things do not work out.

Fánchea Keenan comes from Lisdoonan. She started on the production line in Bose 25 years ago in October 1989 and was a cell leader. She is married with two grown-up children. A daughter Emma who had cystic fibrosis died in 2011.  She says there was always a massive pride in working for Bose. When her daughter was ill she says the company had been very accommodating and the workers had helped to raise money for a CF charity. Fánchea said the founder of the company Dr Amar Bose had been very loyal to the workers in Carrick and had great respect for them. The team had produced very high quality goods. When they signed on for the firm they never envisaged they would have to look for work elsewhere.

Fánchea told me the Irish plant was being closed even though it was always a profitable operation. The very committed workforce had reached all their targets and even to the end had carried out everything asked of them, she said. But greed had got the better of the US-based management as the company wanted to make more profits. She said the Carrickmacross team had pulled out all the stops whether working overtime when asked to do so or during holiday times. Their orders were always delivered on time. But the management had not taken into account the loyalty of the workforce when it decided to shift production to the Far East.

All the workers expressed their annoyance that although they had been promised several things by politicians from various parties after the closure announcement, including the Arts Minister Heather Humphreys T.D. But they said they had not heard anything since the meeting with public representatives in the Nuremore Hotel in January. At the time Minister Humphreys said she had immediately contacted the office of her Cabinet colleague Richard Bruton and the IDA. But she warned it would be wrong to raise any false hopes for the workers in halting the closure, as the company seemed to have embarked on a cost-saving exercise.

Tomorrow (Friday 29th May), one by one, the workers will enter the premises for the last time to receive their redundancy payments. The plant and machinery inside the factory will be sold off by McKay Auctioneers in a fortnight’s time, leaving the building an empty shell.

Six of the redundant workers at the Bose factory Carrickmacross  Photo: © Michael Fisher

Six of the redundant workers at the Bose factory Carrickmacross Photo: © Michael Fisher

BOSE BLOW STUNS CARRICK

NSp1 (2)Northern Standard p.1 Thursday 28th January 2014   Michael Fisher

Bose factory, Carrickmacross  Photo:  © Michael Fisher

Bose factory, Carrickmacross Photo: © Michael Fisher

Carrickmacross was stunned by the unexpected announcement a week ago that the Bose factory is to close in April with the loss of 140 jobs. Now a government Minister has been asked to intervene to establish if the decision by the US-based multinational can be reversed or deferred to give the state agencies an opportunity to seek a replacement business. The news came as  a  shocking New Year blow for several mortgage holders, and family members,  dependent on a  weekly wage from the Bose plant. People like Pat McNally from Corduff, who has worked at the plant from the day it was opened in October 1978.
Immediately after the revelation,  local political leaders, as well as civic, community, and local authority representatives began to explore what steps they might take to have the shut-down deferred. A number of efforts are underway, at state agency level,  to attract  replacement jobs. Three TDs from Cavan/Monaghan, Arts Minister Heather Humphreys, Caoimghín O Caolaín and Brendan Smith met the Minister for Enterprise, Jobs and Innovation, Richard Bruton, at his office in Dublin on Tuesday afternoon. They were accompanied by senior staff from the Industrial Development Authority and Enterprise Ireland. Mr Bruton gave them a commitment he would seek a direct meeting with the Human Resources executive from Bose, Barry Weaver, who is due to return to Carrickmacross in the next 24 hours. Mr Weaver was one of two US-based management representatives who came to County Monaghan a week ago to break the news to the workforce, who had assembled in the canteen to watch a video link. They were expecting the usual quarterly update from the company President. Even the local management had been unprepared for the sudden statement that was read out, announcing  that the plant would close in April, after nearly 37 years in Carrick.
Mr O Caoláin said it might be necessary for Mr Bruton to seek a meeting with the top level of the Bose Corporation in the United States. The initial request to the company would be that it reverses the decision, but if it was unwilling to change its mind, then a deferral of the closure should be sought, he told the Northern Standard. The proposed April date left a very narrow window for any alternative investor, either foreign or indigenous, to be found. The workers in South Carolina had been given nearly eight months before that Bose facility is shut down. Heather Humphreys said the IDA had not been given any advance notification of the company’s plans. She said she would be working with all the constituency representatives to try to persuade Bose not to close but she said it would be wrong to raise any false hopes for the workers at this stage. Brendan Smith said they needed to send out a strong message to the Bose Board and President that the  decision, which had left the highly-skilled workforce devastated, needed to be overturned.
Following the meeting between Oireachtas members from Cavan/Monaghan and the Enterprise Minister, a briefing was held at Leinster House in the office of Sean Conlan TD for a delegation from Monaghan County Council, led by the Cathaoirleach, Cllr Padraig McNally. He was accompanied by Councillors PJ O’Hanlon, Colm Carthy, Aidan Campbell and Paudge Connolly. Senator Diarmuid Wilson also attended as did the Director of Services of Monaghan County Council, Paul Clifford, and John McEntegart, Head of Monaghan Local Enterprise Office. Mr Clifford later revealed that the factory site set up by the IDA in 1978 is no longer owned by the Authority, but is in private hands and remains under lease to Bose.
COMPANY STATEMENT
A copy of the 290-word statement announcing that US and Irish jobs would be ‘eliminated’ was issued to local public representatives and the media by an international PR company in Dublin on behalf of Bose. It stated bluntly:
“Bose Corporation has announced it will be consolidating its wholly-owned manufacturing operations, closing its facilities in Columbia, South Carolina, and Carrickmacross, Ireland, to streamline the company’s global supply chain. Operations in South Carolina will continue until September 2015; operations in Ireland will continue until April 2015. During that time, both workforces will be reduced, and work will transfer to other Bose facilities around the world with duplicative capabilities.

The Columbia, South Carolina facility opened in 1996 and currently has approximately 300 Bose employees. It houses a North American distribution/repair center, and does sub- and final-assembly for some headsets, and some remanufacturing for the region. A final decision on a new location for distribution/repair has not yet been made; other operations will transfer to Bose facilities in Arizona and Mexico. All jobs at the Bose South Carolina campus will be eliminated.
The Carrickmacross, Ireland facility opened in 1978 and currently has approximately 140 Bose employees. It provides final assembly for select home theater systems and Wave® radios for the European market, and some remanufacturing for the region. Operations will transfer to Bose facilities in Malaysia and Mexico. All work will cease at the Bose Ireland facility. Impacted employees have been informed, and all employees who lose their jobs based on these actions will receive outplacement services and severance support.
‘Our rapid global growth requires us to keep pace with our customers, dealers, distributors, resellers and stores, and serve them as efficiently as possible,’ said Bryan Fontaine, executive vice president of global operations and corporate development engineering. ‘But these are still difficult decisions because they impact our very capable teams in South Carolina and Ireland. We thank all of them for their dedication, and we thank the communities of Columbia and Carrickmacross for their years of support.’
UNION RESPONSE
SIPTU Manufacturing Division Organiser Jim McVeigh said that when the workers were informed by management last Thursday the plant was to close, it came as a complete bolt out of the blue. It was devastating news for staff, their families and the wider community. Workers were given a day off on Friday. At a packed meeting in the Nuremore Hotel on Monday evening, SIPTU representatives briefed local politicians on the situation and enlisted their support in the union’s efforts to save the jobs. Mr McVeigh added: “the vast majority of the workforce live in County Monaghan and the plant closure will have a very significant negative impact on the local economy. He said the union was committed to doing everything possible to protect the interests of the workforce.
The atmosphere at the Nuremore was in complete contrast to the gathering there in October 1978, when 150 guests enjoyed a sumptuous reception and luncheon, marking the official opening of the plant by the then Education Minister, the late John Wilson TD. The plant was first blessed by the local Parish Priest. Further details of how the IDA originally set itself a target of creating 4000 new manufacturing jobs in the North East region at the time can be found in Carrickmacross News.

BOSE which has its headquarters at Framingham in Massachusetts was founded by a college Professor of Electrical Engineering and classical music enthusiast Dr Amar Bose in 1964. Before he died in 2013, Dr. Bose donated a majority stake in his company to MIT, the Boston school where he earned three degrees in engineering and taught a course in acoustics. The company employs around 10,500 people internationally and has sales of $3.3 billion.

Carrickmacross provides final assembly for select home theatre systems and radios for the European market, as well as some remanufacturing for the region. It was chosen by the US company because of the local expertise in furniture making. Bose developed wooden cabinets for their high-fidelity speakers and these were sourced in County Monaghan. The US company’s presence attracted a spin-off for local suppliers.
The factory closure whilst having a direct impact on the 140 staff will also affect those who supply services for the plant, such as printers and couriers. This was one of the main concerns on the streets of Carrickmacross during the past week. Local people are waiting to see whether any of the initiatives promised by the politicians will bear fruit over the coming days.