Friday, September 15, 2006

No Ministerial Rush for Bragging Rights on Job Losses

Micheál Martin TD, Minister for Enterprise, Trade & Employment
There is nothing new in a Minister for Enterprise, Trade & Employment taking credit for new jobs. The current incumbent Micheál Martin issues press releases in his name setting out details on the new jobs and calls a press briefing if the announcement is viewed as significant.

Ministers usually run for cover on news of job losses and following the announcement today that the Braun factory in Carlow is to cut 157 jobs at its Carlow plant, one of Martin's juniors Minister for Trade and Commerce, Michael Ahern, T.D., today "welcomed the latest trade statistics released by the CSO...."

Ahern happens to be on a trade mission in Australia and presumably one of his special political helpers in the Department ran off the standard welcome for a rise in exports by 3% in the first half of 2006, compared with the same period in 2005 - not really anything to get too worked up about.

The release reads: Minister Ahern expressed his satisfaction with the July trade figures and the overall trend of the figures for the first half of 2006. While exports decreased on two occasions during this period (i.e. during the months of April and June) overall, exports are up 3% for the six month period January-June 2006 relative to January-June 2005. “I am pleased with the recovery in our export position as illustrated by these latest July trade figures. All in all, exports are continuing to hold their own when you look at the longer term situation,” Minister Ahern said.

I guess he does actually realise that a bounce in one month, does not imply much in regard to a trend.

Back to jobs... With the Braun announcement, Lakelands, Motorola, Delta Modular Systems, together with other job losses that end up in the quarterly redundancy figures, up to 950 jobs have been lost in the first 2 weeks of September. Not exactly a minor issue but don't expect that any minister will accept any blame.

Why worry about 950, when you can take credit for many more jobs as per Wednesday's press release?:

Micheál Martin TD, Minister for Enterprise, Trade & Employment, today welcomed the employment figures for the second quarter of 2006 which show the total numbers of people in employment in the state at over 2 million for the first time in our history.

Commenting on the figures the Minister said, “The figures released today are another endorsement of this Government’s employment and economic policy. That we now have over 2 million people in active employment in our country is another indication of the strides we have made over the past decade”.