PEOPLE WHO LIVE within 50 miles of Limerick city centre know that the impact of Dell shutting down its manufacturing operations in Ireland is nearly the same as Limerick itself shutting down. Local politicians say that every job provided by Dell spins off a job opportunity for three other people in the area. Some of those jobs lie alongside the River Shannon boardwalk, a place I walk several times a month. Today, with a video link to its American headquarters, Dell announced that it will reduce its Limerick workforce by 1,900 in the next 12 months. The total redundancy clean-out will be completed by January 2010. The first workers will leave Dell in Limerick in April 2009. In the near term, Limerick retail merchants will begin to feel the collateral damage of Dell's manufacturing decision.
In order to compete with Lenovo and HP pricing, Dell has to move all production of computer systems for customers in Europe, the Middle East and Africa from Limerick to its Polish facility and third-party manufacturers over the next year. Anyone searching for a laptop in Ireland knows that Acer and Lenovo laptops are generally less expensive than similarly-configured Dell laptops. The price differential has meant Dell is losing profit margin. But as Jeffrey Kaye from Newshour.org discovered on his visit to Limerick and Poland, the picture on the Polish manufacturing line isn't all that rosy. I'm looking for the Newshour segment on PBS because its footage is very revealing and it suggests that Dell's move from Ireland is not as simple a fix as some might think.