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Dell to relocate flagship factory from Ireland to Poland

In April, Dell will close its flagship factory in Limerick, Ireland, and relocate it to Lodz, in Poland. It's a huge blow to the plant's employees but also for the town of Limerick. Meanwhile in Poland, Lodz is enjoying a boom - at least for now.

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PC manufacturer Dell will shut down its flagship plant in Limerick, Ireland, in April, laying off at least 1,900 people. The factory will be moved to Lodz, in Poland. The news came as a shock to the plant’s employees. For 19 years, Dell prided itself on its record productivity and efficiency in Limerick.

For Limerick, Dell's departure is a devastating blow. But the plant is not leaving alone. Its suppliers are also packing up for Poland. This means that at least ten thousand jobs are going to disappear.

Dell's departure couldn't have come at a worse time for Limerick. The region was already hard hit by the global economic downturn, with the once-flourishing construction sector in dire straits. Over the past year, the number of people asking for benefits has risen by 74 percent.

Outside the long queue at the social welfare office, one man told FRANCE 24 that the situation had "changed drastically".

"I've never seen a queue like this," he said to reporters, "It reminds me of something from the 1930s in America. Perhaps we'll have soup kitchens next."

Meanwhile, in Poland, it’s a different situation entirely. Lodz is in the middle of a boom. After the textile industry collapsed at the end of communism, the city launched a massive program to attract foreign investment. Dell is one of the many multinationals that have chosen Lodz. The financial incentives make it an ideal spot for them to set up shop in.

Since Poland joined the European Union in 2004, Lodz has been transformed. Some two billion euros of EU funds are being injected into the region – just like in Ireland in the 1908s. Unemployment has dropped from 20% to just seven percent, even if the cost of living has inevitably increased.

But nothing is set in stone. Rumours are flying around the factory about a move to Belarus, where the wages are even lower. Everyone is asking themselves the same question: how long before Dell and the other multinationals get a better offer elsewhere?

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