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.
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.