New markets to combat job loss

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East Antrim MP Sammy Wilson is urging Caterpillar to explore new markets to recoup the proposed redundancies announced two weeks ago.

At the end of November, the manufacturing firm told workers it would begin consultation over 65 proposed voluntary redundancies, including 20 at the Larne plant, 30 at Monkstown and 15 at its Springvale site in Belfast.

The decision was said to be due to “weaknesses in the economies of some key markets” affecting demand for products.

Mr Wilson stated: “I know that after the last bout of redundancies Caterpillar did work very hard to bring new activities to Northern Ireland which has brought the workforce up to the level of 2,000. My hope is, that despite the losses that have been announced, Caterpillar will continue to look for opportunities for other activities to be moved to Northern Ireland to replace those that are being hit by the recession in countries they are currently selling to.”

Mr Wilson said unemployment in East Antrim had fallen by over 500 jobs in the last year. He stated: “Considerable efforts have been made by the Executive and especially Invest NI in promoting new jobs in the area and I am pleased there have been a number of job announcements over the last year in Carrickfergus, Newtownabbey and Larne.”

Mr Wilson added that DETI Minister Arlene Foster was committed to dealing with job issues. He continued: “The growth of the economy, as far as I am concerned, is the most important issue politicians have to address in Northern Ireland and requires concerted effort, not only in our own local Assembly in Northern Ireland but by Government nationally.”