Belfast Telegraph

Caterpillar jobs blow will have 'enormous impact on community, ripple effect will be huge'

By Luke Barnes

The news of massive job cuts at Caterpillar's Monkstown plant in Newtownabbey had come as a shock to the despondent workers as they headed home yesterday.

Devastated staff, some of who had been at the plant for more than two decades, were left shocked and angry by the decision to close the operation, labelling it a "disgrace".

And talk of redeployment did little to dampen the impact of yesterday's news.

Some accused the construction equipment manufacturer of not being forthright and building a wall of silence between it and the employees.

One described the decision as "purely political". "There was no reason put on the table," he told the Belfast Telegraph. "I'm disgusted.

"Disgusted would be an understatement - 22 years I've been here."

Another 15-year veteran, whose young daughter was in the back of his car as he drove out of the plant, said Caterpillar had misled staff.

"They did not tell us anything for the last two years - they just ran us along," the employee claimed.

A third member of staff said the decision was "absolutely terrible" and that while there was a chance of redeployment over the next six months, the company would not tell its workers anything.

Caterpillar said that it would try to relocate some of the redundant workers into its other plants, but that did nothing to lift hopes

David Thompson from the Unite union said: "We understood that this was going to happen, but it has come as a devastating impact, especially in this local community. The ripple effect will be huge."

Thompson stressed that Unite would fight to save the plant, but admitted that the outlook was bleak.

"It's always difficult at this stage," he added. "This decision has been made by at a corporate level and is hard to reverse. There's no guarantees. The only guarantee you get is 30 days or 90 days' notice."

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