‘Political inaction’ in face of East Antrim job losses ‘unacceptable’, says union

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Unite the union has accused political leaders of “sticking their heads in the sand” following the announcement of almost 150 redundancies in East Antrim this week.

Caterpillar, which has factories in Larne, Monkstown and Belfast, is shedding 100 posts, while Schrader Electronics in Carrickfergus is releasing 42 temporary staff.

Responding to what he described as “the deafening silence of political leaders” in the wake of the announcements, Davy Thompson, Unite Regional coordinating officer demanded action for those facing unemployment.

He added: “Unite has met with the DETI and DEL Ministers as well as employers seeking to mitigate these job losses and protect our members to the greatest possible extent.

“Today, our activists and members are at the forefront of efforts in other businesses to prevent even further job losses which would threaten further devastation to Northern Ireland’s economy.

“Meanwhile our political leaders prefer to stick their heads in the sand and play divisive games. It is time that they prioritised the needs of ordinary working people who have to live with the consequences of political failure.

“Unite is calling for Ministers to offer the same support to the workforces at these employers as they have to Michelin and JTI workers. Ministerial silence and inaction in the face of these job losses is unacceptable,” he concluded.

Meanwhile, Ireland Secretary for Unite, Jimmy Kelly indicated that he would be writing to the First Minister and deputy First Minister to seek an urgent meeting in face of the economic challenges faced by workers in Northern Ireland.

“The threat posed to the Northern Ireland is very serious,” he added.

“The changed realities of the global economy in the aftermath of the 2007 downturn are combining with local challenges faced by manufacturers such as the high cost of energy, geographical disadvantages and inadequate capital supports to create a potential perfect storm for the Northern Ireland economy.

“Unite is demanding immediate engagement with all those charged with ensuring that NI manufacturing is supported before it is too late.

“In facing this threat, Unite will not be found wanting but we need our political leaders to be similarly proactive. The Executive needs to bring forward proposals to deal with the crisis in manufacturing. I am calling on the First Minister and deputy First Minister to invite stakeholder groups to an emergency meeting on the crisis in Northern Ireland manufacturing,” Mr Kelly concluded.