The Finance Minister says the Executive must look at how it can work with FG Wilson to find jobs for the 260 workers the manufacturer is making redundant.
Sammy Wilson, who is also the MP for many of the employees affected, said the job losses were a “bad blow” for the workers.
FG Wilson’s announcement came as a “bolt out of the blue”, according to trade union Unite.
The diesel and gas generator manufacturer — a subsidiary of Caterpillar Inc — has three manufacturing facilities in Northern Ireland.
It is believed most of the redundancies will be made within the Larne plant, but the Monkstown and Springvale plants will also be affected.
The company plans to relocate the production of its 400 series generator sets to Tianjin in China, closer to its growing customer base.
Around 160 members of the company’s agency workforce in Northern Ireland will lose their jobs as a result of the shift in production to China, which will begin later this year.
The company also announced that salaried and management staff in its small generator team will be subjected to a two-month evaluation. It is understood the company wants to cut 100 jobs from the section, starting in the last three months of the year.
East Antrim MP Mr Wilson said he was told three weeks ago by the company it was back to 2008 levels of production, regarded as a peak.
“This is a bad blow. What we have to do now is to look and see what can be done for those who are made unemployed,” he said.
“And secondly, and much more importantly, what work can be done with FG Wilson to try and find other investment projects which can lead to the re-employment of some of those workers.
“We have got to look at ways in which we can work with FG Wilson to try and fill the gap which has been created by the moving of the volume production to China.”
A spokesman for Unite said: “We have no further information other than that given by the company to the Press, which has come as a bolt out of the blue.
“Unite the Union shop stewards will now be entering a 90-day consultation period with the company.”
Leo Mooney, Unite shop steward for FG Wilson, said core workers will not be affected.
“There are 160 agency workers who will be going over the three sites.
“There is no mention of the core workers being affected,” he said.
East Antrim DUP MLA Alastair Ross said the news was evidence that local companies are not immune to uncertain global market conditions.
“Invest NI are working with executives at Caterpillar. They have given substantial assistance to FG Wilson over the last 10 years,” he said.
“What is important now is that those impacted by the decision are given all the support they need.”
East Antrim Sinn Fein MLA Oliver McMullan appealed to FG Wilson to ensure those facing redundancy receive their full entitlement. He also called for training to be put in place to re-skill those made unemployed so they can seek alternative employment.