Fresh fears for future of Seagate Derry plant

13 Jan 2009

In the aftermath of Dell’s announcement in Limerick, the entire workforce at hard drive maker Seagate’s Derry plant have been called in for a meeting on the plant’s future tomorrow.

Over 1,400 workers have been summoned to the meeting where they will be updated on working arrangements and staffing levels.

Last September, Seagate shut down a plant a few miles away at Limavady, with the loss of nearly 1,000 jobs that went to Malaysia.

Seagate is one of the world’s largest players in the volatile hard-disk manufacturing market.

The operation in Derry, which manufactures hard disks and other storage devices, was established over 10 years ago and is considered a jewel in the crown of Northern Ireland’s computer industry.

The future of the Limavady operation was considered secure, especially following a £90m sterling investment by the company to upgrade the facility in 2003.

That investment saw the creation of higher storage capacity disk drives, as well as the creation of R&D relationships between the electronics giant and local universities in the region.

Seagate famously closed a major manufacturing facility in Clonmel in the mid-90s, with the loss of over 1,000 jobs, only months after the operation’s official opening.

Seagate is a US$11bn-a-year technology giant established in the 1980s by Al Shugart. Its hard drives are used in a variety of computers, from servers, desktops and laptops to other consumer devices such as digital video recorders, the Microsoft Xbox and the Creative Zen line of digital audio players.

By John Kennedy

John Kennedy is a journalist who served as editor of Silicon Republic for 17 years