Irish Republican News · September 17, 2004
[Irish Republican News]

[Irish Republican News]
‘Fruit of the Loom’ moves to Morocco

A decision by the Fruit of the Loom corporation to close its Donegal and Derry plants has come as a massive blow to the northwest.

The US-owned company, which specialises in sport and leisurewear, once boasted a cross-border workforce of more than 3,500.

However, in common with a host of the north’s big textile players, the company’s fortunes began to wane towards the close of the decade.

Decreasing demand for its once ubiquitous T-shirts and sweatshirts led to major job cuts as the company, like many of its competitors, moved much of its manufacturing to the low labour cost economies of north Africa and the Far East.

The company yesterday announced that the remaining 630 jobs would be phased out over the next 4 to 5 years. They blamed the decision of the World Trade Organisation to remove quotas on imported products from the Far East from January 2005 for their announcement to relocate most of the Irish operation to Morocco.

Donegal North East representative Pádraig Mac Lochlainn said the announcement was “another kick in the teeth to the people of Inishowen and the North West region.

“Donegal has already lost 5,000 jobs over the last 8 years in the textile industry alone. We have unemployment levels four times the national average. How much more can we take?”

Anger has grown in Donegal at the failure of the Dublin government to tackle the ongoing jobs crisis in the county.

A rally will take place next Saturday in the Market Square, Letterkenny with the theme of ‘Jobs and Equality for Donegal’.

That rally had already been organised following the 800 job losses at the UNIFI plant at Letterkenny. Following this announcement of further job losses, a huge crowd is expected to come out to protest.

Derry mayor Gerry O hEara last night called for the area to be declared an “economic disaster zone”.

The Sinn Féin councillor said that although the local textile industry had been almost decimated, yesterday’s announcement had still come as something of a surprise.

He called for a real and serious action plan for the economic regeneration of the area” which has lagged far behind the recent economic growth in the rest of Ireland.

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© 2004 Irish Republican News