Technology companies bring jobs and money to Ireland but there are claims of low wages and non-union policies.

Logitech on the Model Farm Road in Cork is about to become a casualty of the fiercely competitive computer industry. One of the biggest suppliers of the computer mouse, the multinational company’s plant was set up six years ago and now has a staff of 220. 

Increasing competition in the electronics and technology industry means that cost cutting measures are commonplace. In spite of a high performance record within the company, forty per cent of Logitech’s business here will be transferred to China.

Many trade unionists claim that the industry is moving in the direction of, 

A strategy of low pay and non-recognition of the unions.

At a recent SIPTU (Services Industrial Professional and Technical Union) conference in Cork, union representatives called on government to stop state grants to companies who do not employ trade unionists or who operate low pay policies.  

Ger Tobin of SIPTU believes recognition of trade unions needs to be part of any deal when the IDA (Industrial Development Authority) provides grants to multinational companies setting up factories and processing plants in Ireland.

PAYE (Pay As You Earn tax system) workers who contribute so much to the State’s revenue are undermined when big companies fail to recognise trade unions according to SIPTU member Donal Hennessey who is also concerned that 

The government and the government bodies are portraying this country as a non-union country, which is not on.

Companies contacted by RTÉ for comment on were not anxious to talk about the situation. The IDA says its policy is to advise multinationals of the constitutional right of Irish workers to join trade unions. It did not however endorse a compulsory policy to force trade union membership. 

John McDonnell, the South/Western Regional Secretary of SIPTU says that in the main, the union has a good working relationship with electronics and computer companies in the region. 

SIPTU does however have issues with some companies in the sector whose employees do not enjoy the same working conditions and rates of pay as many of their counterparts. They are engaging with the IDA on a local level and at a national level about this issue. He maintains that it is possible for companies to progress from where they are now,

We believe that they’ve a very very important role to play in this region.

This report for ‘Nationwide’ was broadcast on 4 December 1994. The reporter is Tom MacSweeney and the presenter is Michael Ryan.