Belfast Telegraph

Factory closure axes 210 local jobs

By Lauren Mulvenny

Workers at the Hughes Christensen drill-bit factory are to lose their jobs, facing an uncertain 2010.

The factory’s parent company, Baker Hughes, announced last week that the long-standing plant in east Belfast was to close with the loss of 210 jobs.

A drop in worldwide demand for the product was said to be the reason for the move.

A spokesperson for Baker Hughes said: “During the Belfast facility’s 55 years of operation, its people have distinguished themselves by the quality of their work.

“Baker Hughes wishes to extend its thanks to the people of this plant and to the Belfast community for its support over so many years.”

But one local representative has blasted the move as an “out of the blue blow”.

Victoria councillor Robin Newton, who serves as Junior Minister in the Assembly, added: “The Department for Employment and Learning (DEL) must now move staff onto the premises offering advice on job search, retraining opportunities or benefits entitlement.

“There will be difficult days ahead for many of these reliable and dedicated staff, especially those in the more mature age bracket.

“Everything that can be done must be done to help the employees and their wives, partners and children.”

Councillor Jim Rodgers said it was a “sad day” as the firm had been part of east Belfast life for so long.

He added: “It will be hard for those who have lost their jobs. Where do they go from here?

“This is another example of how the manufacturing base in Northern Ireland has been eroded over the years.”

Belfast Telegraph

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