Republican News · Thursday 20 July 2000

[An Phoblacht]

The end of Guinness in Ireland?

The announcement of the cutting of 300 jobs at a Guinness plant in Dundalk came as a huge shock to people living in the region. Sinn Féin Louth County Councillor Arthur Morgan put the most apt context on the weekend disclosure. He described the media reports of Guinness announcing ``the loss'' of 300 jobs as ``misleading public relations gloss on a coldly calculated corporate decision by management. These jobs have not been lost or mislaid - they have been axed''.

The jobs have been axed by a company that is not actually losing money on its operations. Guinness is a hugely profitable company. They believe though, that even greater profits can be made by the restructuring of the company. Last year, Guinness recorded profits of 273 million sterling.

This is a company driven by short term concerns. Its billion -pound merger with Grand Metropolitan into the new Diageo food and drink conglomerate has provoked a range of similar decisions by the huge transnational company.

The closure raises serious questions about the long-term future of Guinness in Ireland. Media commentators are more likely to talk about the property value of their vast land holdings, especially in Dublin, rather than the future of the company's commercial operations in Ireland.

Now, as part of Diageo, Guinness has absolutely no binding link to the Irish economy. Just look at Diageo's other concerns. Apart from being one of the world's largest brewers and distillers, they are also the owners of Haagen Dazs and Burger King.

This is clearly a company trawling the world looking for the cheapest place to make its products and the highest price markets in which to sell them. The outcome of such strategies is the closure of the Dundalk plant.

Guinness are to seek Industrial Development Board (IDB) grant aid for moving some of their packaging operations to Belfast. This is the logic of transnational companies - cutting jobs in one region means more state aid to move to another.

Needless to say, the Dublin Government have been remarkably silent about the Guinness rationalisation plan. They need to wake up and understand that this is not the end of the Guinness rationalisation in Ireland. It is only the beginning. It seems that after all these years, Guinness isn't good for you.

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