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Hammer blow in Northern Ireland as another 95 jobs axed at Wrightbus

Industry uncertainty: Mark Nodder
Industry uncertainty: Mark Nodder
Ryan McAleer

By Ryan McAleer

Nearly 100 workers are set to lose their jobs at Wrightbus after the Ballymena bus giant announced a second wave of redundancies in less than four months.

After placing 95 employees on notice in February, the company shocked its workforce yesterday afternoon by declaring an additional 95 jobs could go.

The Wrights Group, which employs 1,560 people, has blamed market uncertainty for hitting new orders.

The cuts are expected to be made within the Wrightbus, Customcare and EN-Drive subsidiaries, all based at Ballymena.

Wrights Group chairman Mark Nodder said industry uncertainty was to blame for the job losses.

"There is a good deal of continuing uncertainty - specifically in the UK market - at present, which is causing private and public bus operators alike to delay or postpone their vehicle investment programmes," he said.

"This has a direct impact on production levels at our Ballymena facilities and the announcement that we are making today - difficult and regrettable as it is - is nonetheless necessary to align workforce requirements with our near term order book."

Unite union regional officer George Brash said he was "deeply sceptical" over the timing of yesterday's announcement.

He said there had been no indication of further losses during the recent consultation, which ran until the end of March.

"Given it is less than four months since the last redundancy - which just happened to be below 100 job losses - we have to question whether Wrights Group bosses are purposefully staggering job losses so that they don't exceed the threshold triggering a full 90-day consultation period and the opportunity for our union to bring forward alternatives."

Labelling it "another hammer blow for the workforce and the Ballymena area", the union rep said that he would visit the site today.

"We will be asking the company some hard questions in relation to why this announcement had come on the back of that last one and their justification for that," he said.

"From what I hear from our members on the ground, there seems to be plenty of overtime there. All this market uncertainty they keeping putting forward - our guys are still building a quality product, and they certainly feel undervalued in the way they've been treated."

Belfast Telegraph