Belfast Telegraph

Friday 19 September 2014

Seagate closes factory gates

The factory gates today closed on US technology giant Seagate’s Limavady plant, with the loss of almost 1,000 jobs.

A total of 600 workers today worked their last shift at the doomed factory, and now face an uncertain future.

The Mayor of Limavady Brenda Chivers today said the town faces a “desperate situation” as the final team of workers ended their last shift this morning.

In total around 670 full-time workers and 150 agency and part-time workers have been made redundant, with 50 people having been transferred to Seagate’s Derry plant. A further 50 have also found work elsewhere.

Limavady Borough Council meanwhile have provided a link to counselling services for those suffering from depression and anxiety in light of the closure.

The Aghanloo operation opened in 1997, three years after Seagate's Londonderry operation was launched, and was Limavady’s largest employer for the past decade.

In total Seagate had employed 930 workers at the Limavady plant when it announced the closure at the end of October last year.

A few staff members will be kept on to dismantle the plant before the local operation is relocated to Malaysia in South East Asia.

By contrast, the immediate future of the American company’s Derry plant was secured with a £120m investment package announced in July.

In light of today’s closure, Limavady Borough Council has now lined up 20 employers to take part in a jobs fair planned for next month.

Mayor Brenda Chivers has also urged the council to invite a group of US business investors planning to come to Belfast and Derry to also visit the borough.

She said: “We have now a desperate situation in Limavady.

“Today is a very sad day for the town with so many jobs being lost all at once.

“I have heard there are people thinking of selling their cars because they are not going to be able to make the payments on them. People are worried about mortgages, their future and how they are going to afford things.

“We have a skilled workforce and we have the facilities for anyone wanting to start up a business — it shouldn’t be just up to the cities.”

Ms Chivers, who met with the workers yesterday afternoon, said the marketplace they were entering was even bleaker than it was when the plant closure was announced last year.

“People are losing their jobs every day, companies are going out of business” she said, adding:

“This is going to have a knock-on effect on shops and the wider economy which is going to feel the pinch as well because people will not have the money to spend.”

Mrs Chivers said the council has now provided a link via its website to groups and organisations for anyone needing counselling for stress, depression or worry.

She said: “It is important that they do not feel alone and we have got to do everything in our power to help.”

The managing director of Seagate Limavady, Dr William O’Kane said the atmosphere among the workforce on the last day of production was “strange”.

He said: “There is a mixture of emotions. Some people are ready to draw a line under it and get on to the next stage of their lives and other people are sad and emotional. It is not the usual atmosphere here.”

He added: “We have had a very extensive Outplacement Programme whereby we brought on board specialist consultants that prepare people for life after Seagate.”

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