GOVERNMENT must move to ensure that East Antrim remains an attractive place for multi-nationals like Caterpillar to do business, Larne deputy mayor Cllr Mark McKinty has urged.
Refusing to accept the announcement of proposed FG Wilson job cuts as a fait accompli, the Ulster Unionist representative called on Executive ministers to act swiftly.
“It is imperative every politician, Government agency and community stakeholder unites in addressing the fundamental problems which have lead to this jobs loss announcement – mainly competitiveness and geo-location of exporter customers,” he said.
“The FG Wilson situation is not a case of job losses due to a dying industry, or new technological advances. These high-skilled jobs are being relocated to the opposite side of the world because it is clear that FG WIlson see the Northern Ireland cost base is too high to sustain manufacturing of new generation products in Larne.
“The fact their growing customer base is 5,000 miles away from the present manufacturing site, and transportation costs are prohibitive, adds to the dilemma.
“It is now clear that serious and urgent attention is needed to address Northern Ireland’s business taxes, and at the same time, HM Treasury needs to examine the plethora of indirect taxes and charges, like carbon tax and VAT, which are choking business’s ability to grow and succeed,” Cllr McKinty added.
“I know many of the families personally who will be affected by this announcement.
“But it is not just FG Wilson employees who will be affected. There are many hundreds of downstream jobs in subsidiary industries exposed to the knock-on effects.
Cllr McKinty added: “FG Wilson has decades of strong community links with East Antrim and Northern Ireland, and a workforce which has devoted many millions of hours in ensuring corporate success.
“We must not accept this announcement as a fait accompoli, but instead redouble our efforts to understand the needs of employers, ensure Government works for and on behalf of workers, communities and entrepreneurs at a time when global growth is weak.”