Caterpillar ‘still committed to NI’

Enterprise Minister Arlene Foster will meet Caterpillar vice president next week to try and mitigate job losses at FG Wilson.

Politicians met at Stormont this week to determine how they can help the 760 people who are to be made redundant across the engineering firm’s three plants.

Mrs Foster will come face-to-face with Bill Rohner, vice-president of Caterpillar’s electric power division, during a visit to the USA.

The Minister has already been in talks with Mr Rohner, and she said he has given her assurances that the company is committed to staying in Northern Ireland.

Speaking at the Assembly on Monday, Mrs Foster said: “We were completely shocked by the magnitude of last week’s announcement, which came to light only a few days before the public announcement.

“As soon as I was made aware, I immediately contacted Bill Rohner and made contact with Doug Oberhelman, Caterpillar’s chairman and CEO, expressing my grave concern at the number of potential job losses and seeking the opportunity to meet him and his team to discuss the decision in more detail.

“Mr Rohner told me that it was a difficult decision, taken in the face of increasingly competitive global economic pressures. I sought assurances from him that the company is still committed to Northern Ireland, and he assured me that is the case and that it intends to maintain a presence in Northern Ireland.”

The Minister received a letter from Mr Oberhelman last week, which stated: “Please be aware that our current plan is to continue to manufacture large gen sets from Northern Ireland and are actively looking for other work we can bring to our Northern Ireland facilities.”