Call for action on East Antrim economy after Caterpillar jobs loss

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Elected representatives are calling for East Antrim’s economic regeneration after Caterpillar announced plans for 35 voluntary redundancies.

The global firm began consultations with employees and agency workers on June 10, after notifying employees in its Electric Power Division in Northern Ireland and the US that it intended to “take measures to better align its organisational structure, resulting in a more efficient and competitive business model to better serve our customers.”

It is expected that 100 posts will go across the division, a combination of staff jobs and contracted workers.

Sinn Fein MLA Oliver McMullan stated: “It is another devastating blow for East Antrim and I am calling on the DETI minister to step in and produce an economic revival plan for East Antrim. We have the A8 in place, one of the biggest ports, a large rural workforce, we are half an hour from Belfast and 20 minutes from the airport. There is a need for an economic corridor to be created within East Antrim and I want the Minister to get involved to promote the area.”

East Antrim Alliance MLA Stewart Dickson called the news “very disappointing.”

“I am concerned for those workers who will be losing their jobs, as it will be a stressful time for them and their families,” he said.

“Caterpillar remains a key employer in my constituency of East Antrim and remains a vital part of our manufacturing sector. I have contacted the Employment and Learning Minister and hope that Caterpillar will avail of the services in his Department that can assist the staff affected by this announcement.”

East Antrim DUP MLA Alastair Ross added: “Any announcement of job losses obviously comes as a blow, and this latest announcement, approximately six months since the last, is no different.

“Whilst there is a recognition that the workforce at the three NI Caterpillar plants will fluctuate depending on global market conditions, it is nevertheless important that Invest NI and DETI engage with the company to ascertain whether any assistance is required to secure existing production lines or attract new work in the future. Caterpillar remains a major NI employer and local representatives are always willing to assist the company.”

Deputy Mayor of Mid and East Antrim Borough Council Timothy Gaston stated: “For a company held in such high esteem it is a tough pill to swallow that they are making this decision. This council area has a lot to offer companies, we have a skilled workforce and a work ethic to match. Invest NI needs to up their game and attract foreign direct investment to fill the void left by companies such as Pattons, JTI / Gallaher and now Caterpillar.”

Larne Councillor Ruth Wilson commented: “I am saddened to learn that there will be redundancies in Caterpillar, which will be another blow to the manufacturing sector in Northern Ireland. My thoughts are with those whose who are in line for this redundancy and I hope that their expertise can be utilised by another company.”