Caterpillar jobs axe is poised over Larne, Monkstown and Springvale sites

The Caterpillar plant at Monkstown. (Library picture)

The Caterpillar plant at Monkstown. (Library picture)

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Engineering firm Caterpillar has announced it is seeking 35 voluntary redundancies from among its Northern Ireland workforce.

The former FG Wilson operation began consultations today with employees and agency workers.

Global company Caterpillar issued a statement revealing that it had notified employees in its Electric Power Division, in Northern Ireland and in the US, that it will “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.

“The jobs impact will primarily be in the Mossville, Illinois; Griffin, Georgia; and Northern Ireland facilities, and will begin to take effect on June 30,” said Caterpillar.

“Resources will be provided to assist impacted individuals during this transition. We know this is difficult for our employees and their families, but we must take steps to position the company for long-term success.”

A spokesman said it was not possible to say which of the Caterpillar facilities in Larne, Monkstown or Belfast would be most affected, adding: “No one can be sure where the voluntary redundancies will take effect until the applications are received.”

Unite union has called for a meeting with Enterprise Minister Jonathan Bell to discuss the latest blow to the local manufacturing sector.

Davy Thompson, regional coordinating officer for Unite, said: “This announcement is yet another blow to our manufacturing sector. Caterpillar shed 140 jobs at the end of last year.”

He said the union understood that up to 70 jobs would be lost here.

“In the last year, Northern Ireland’s manufacturing base has suffered a series of losses with more than 1,500 job losses in prominent companies such as JTI-Gallahers in Ballymena, Bombardier-Shorts and Sirocco. Unite has led calls for the NI Executive to take action and bring forward a manufacturing strategy to stem the losses and refocus on securing investment and job creation. Our call for a strategic approach has been supported by Manufacturing NI, who represent the leading employers in the sector.

“On May 14, I wrote to the incoming Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Investment, Jonathan Bell to ask for a meeting – it is nearly one month and we continue to wait for a date to raise our concerns directly with the minister.

“Unite represents many of the workers affected by this announcement and despite having no formal recognition for them due to their agency status, we will represent them individually to secure the best possible terms in this difficult time,” Mr Thompson added.