Union calls for Stormont help as 6,000 manufacturing jobs lost in two years
Northern Ireland has lost 6,000 manufacturing jobs over the last two years, a union leader said.
Workers and employers want Stormont to adopt an industrial strategy and create a resurgent sector providing a fifth of local economic output.
Unite regional secretary Jimmy Kelly said enhanced allowances should be used to create a step change in investment.
"Northern Ireland has lost 6,000 jobs in manufacturing over the past two years - these were among the best paid jobs in the region and will not be easily replaced by jobs of an equivalent value."
High-profile operations to close include the former Gallaher's tobacco factory in Ballymena. Michelin Tyres is due to shut its doors by 2018.
Bombardier Aerospace in Belfast has also shed large numbers of jobs as part of a restructuring process expected to leave more than 1,000 out of work.
Mr Kelly added: "While we recognise that the Executive is working to support the success of some leading manufacturers this needs to be more consistent and applied across the entire sector.
"We need a different approach to procurement to ensure it works for local suppliers and efforts to grow supply-chains networks across the whole of Northern Ireland as well as enhanced allowances to encourage a step-change in capital investment."
Stephen Kelly, chief executive of the Manufacturing NI lobby organisation, said the sector employs more than 85,000 and contributes more than £18 billion in sales - of which £14 billion are external.
"An opportunity exists to do more, so it is vitally important that our politicians adopt an ambitious approach to create the conditions which will allow manufacturing to grow to 20% of the Northern Ireland economy creating jobs, increasing investment and quickly assisting the Executive to deliver a rebalanced economy which benefits the entire region.
"We need an industrial strategy to ensure that high-value added manufacturing stays on the agenda - that there is real action to lower energy and transport costs, to win foreign direct investment in the sector and to put the resources in to ensure the labour force has the skills needed for future success.
"There is even more need for such a strategy given the huge ramifications of Brexit for market access and labour mobility."