A midlands-based company that converts ambulances for the Health Service Executive and other health agencies has told its workforce it will be laying them off for a three-week period because of problems with the supply of components from the UK caused by Brexit and customs issues.
Management at the Wilker Auto Conversions plant in Clara, Co Offaly, say over 80 staff members will be affected by the move.
Wilker is one of the largest specialist vehicle converters in Ireland and the UK, employing up to 100 people in Clara where they assemble ambulances and other vehicles for the emergency services.
Key components for the production lines come into the country from England and staff at the Wilker plant have now been told they will have to shut down for at least three weeks from 15 February due to a lack of materials to work with.
The company is blaming Brexit and customs delays for the problem.
The SIPTU services division, which represents almost 60 Wilker employees, has asked for an urgent meeting with management today.
Offaly Fianna Fáil TD Barry Cowen has called on the company to outline full details of the nature of the delay to its workforce and the authorities here as soon as possible in a bid to ease concerns over longer layoffs.
Wilker Auto Conversions CEO Donnacha Hurley said the company is confident that the three-week layoff is the "worst case scenario."
He said the company started its Brexit-ready preparedness in the middle of 2019 and engaged outside expert support.
In a statement, Mr Hurley said the company has worked with supply chain partners to meet the new requirements to keep goods flowing into Ireland since 1 January, "but despite the best efforts of all involved we are faced with critical shortages which have resulted in this three week shutdown.
"This situation is devastating news for all our employees which is something we very much regret. We are working with our employees to ease the financial burden that has been brought about by this interruption and of course are continuing to work with our supply chain to eliminate or shorten the impact.
"The company focus is on these matters and we will be making no further comment on the situation."