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Michelin closure 'body blow' for economy

Published 03/11/2015

Senior political figures including the First Minister have spoken out against the closure

Peter Robinson and Martin McGuinness said the closure of Michelin was a "body blow" to the local economy.

The First Minister and Deputy First Minister pledged to make every effort to alleviate the impact of the job losses.

They said: "The Executive will make every effort to alleviate the impact of the job losses and ensure the necessary support is available to those affected directly and indirectly.

"Just over a year ago the workers of JTI Gallaher in Ballymena received similar news and so this combined with today's announcement is a real body blow to the local economy.

"The Executive is willing to meet with management, workers, trade unions and all local representatives to see if there is anything further we as an Executive can do."

Irish Congress of Trade Unions assistant general secretary Peter Bunting said the threat to jobs had been repeatedly raised with ministers.

"And yet, nothing was done to avert this catastrophe for the 860 workers in Michelin, the 500 contractors, and the wider economy of Ballymena, already reeling after over 1,000 jobs lost with the shifting of JTI tobacco to Eastern Europe," he said.

"The trade union movement has consistently called for a manufacturing strategy and the NI Executive and for action to address energy costs here, which are the highest for large manufacturers on both islands."

DUP MP Ian Paisley has said central government did assist the company in its efforts to reduce energy costs and become more competitive.

Stormont enterprise minister Jonathan Bell said: "Today's announcement is devastating news for the affected workers, their families and the local community as a whole.

"My thoughts are with them as they struggle to come to terms with the prospect of having to seek employment elsewhere; and with the external contractors who will also be affected by today's announcement."

Government jobs creation agency Invest NI chief executive Alastair Hamilton said it was deeply upsetting for employees and their families.

He said: "Michelin has been a significant employer in the area for many years and the impact of its decision to close the Ballymena site is a great loss for the area and for Northern Ireland.

"We will of course engage with the company to fully understand its decision to close the plant."

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