Job losses are avoided at Foyle Meats plant
Employees earmarked for possible redundancies at a meat processing plant in Co Londonderry have held on to their jobs.
There were fears that 85 positions under threat at Campsie based Foyle Meats would be lost, but now only nine workers are to be made redundant.
The Foyle Food Group employs 780 employees across five sites, processing in the region of 180,000 cattle per year.
However, the company noted a sharp decline in sheep production, prompting it to close its lamb facility, as it "could no longer justify the slaughter and processing of lambs".
Between 2007 and 2009, the total number of lambs processed in Northern Ireland fell by 29%, and there has been a further reduction of 25% since the start of 2010.
Unite Union has been working with management at Foyle Meats to avoid heavy job losses as a result of the ending of lamb processing for the company.
The union has welcomed the latest development. Gareth Scott, Unite's regional industrial organiser said: "Union representatives have, in management's own words, been quite open, and have made a fair contribution during this difficult process.
"We are content we have done what we can to save as many jobs as possible. Although saddened that nine members are to lose their jobs, the union has helped secure employment for the remainder of those who were in danger of being made compulsory redundant."
The saved staff will be redeployed to other sites, or take up new jobs created within the plant.
Joe McDonald from the Ulster Farmers' Union said: "While it's disappointing to hear that nine jobs have been lost at Foyle Meats, if the 85 jobs saved is a signal of good health for the business in the North West, then it will give the wider farming community confidence."