According to the Irish Independent ("Minister denies he was told of Dell plan to shut plant," Patricia McDonagh and Kathryn Hayes, 10/06/08) Defense Minister Willie O'Dea emphatically denied that he was told of a proposal to "wind down" Dell's 3,000-worker Limerick operation. Amidst the usual accusation and counter-accusation of who plans to do what, when, and to whom, spokesmen for Fine Gael and Labor are urging the government to do whatever is necessary to save jobs.
We agree — with a few qualifiers. The company should not shut the plant and lay off the workers. On the contrary, the workers might want to consider buying the plant and (in effect) lay off the company. By spinning off the Limerick facility as an independently-owned subcontractor, Dell could probably cut costs substantially. For their part, if the workers would agree to replace a portion of the usual fixed wage and benefits package due them as employees, with profits due them as owners, fixed costs could be lowered, competitiveness enhanced, and jobs saved — a "win-win" situation for both Dell and the workers.
A worker buyout on these terms would require some enabling legislation in the Dail. "Model" ESOP ("Employee Stock Ownership Plan") legislation is available for free on the web site of the Center for Economic and Social Justice, while a leading expert in restructuring economies along more just lines — Dr. Norman Kurland — can be contacted by picking up the telephone or sending an e-mail to the contact information given on the CESJ web site or the for-profit site of Equity Expansion International, Inc. It costs nothing to ask, and Ireland has nothing to lose . . . except 3,000 jobs.
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