Belfast Telegraph

Jobs blow at Caterpillar sparks plea from union to MLAs

By John Porter

A trade union has demanded MLAs work to protect and create manufacturing in Northern Ireland after another 140 jobs were lost at engineering firm Caterpillar.

The company said it would be seeking voluntary redundancies from 65 people at its plants in Larne, Monkstown in Newtownabbey and in Belfast.

Another 75 agency workers will also lose their jobs. Caterpillar, which employs around 2,000 people locally, blamed weaknesses in the economy for a lack of demand in its products.

Regional co-ordinating officer for Unite, Davy Thompson, said there was "anger and dismay" among the workers.

He said: "With JTI-Gallaher, Shorts and now this, we have lost almost 1,500 jobs in just three months.

"Politicians - as they have before - will come out and say about training and supporting those affected.

"But where are the jobs?"

He added: "The unions, Manufacturing NI and the politicians need to all sit down and work on a strategy to protect the sector and create jobs. Otherwise we will be left with just a service industry."

"We know Caterpillar management is actively seeking to bring work in - whether they can do that or not is another thing." Caterpillar said: "The company is taking appropriate measures to help ensure the competitiveness of the business."

The American company bought FG Wilson 15 years ago.

Two years ago almost 1,000 people lost their jobs when Caterpillar moved generator production to China.

In September 2012 it was revealed that £25 million in support was handed over to the company by Invest NI.

And in 2013 another £3m was awarded from Invest NI and the Executive.

Last night Employment Minister Stephen Farry said his thoughts were with those affected and added that his department was working on measures to support them.

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