| 12.6°C Belfast

Closure of Crane Stockham in east Belfast 'a body blow'

Close

Surprised: George Brash

Surprised: George Brash

Surprised: George Brash

The closure of an east Belfast factory resulting in 63 job losses has been branded "a body blow" for manufacturing in Northern Ireland.

Crane Stockham Valve, part of US firm Crane Co, employs 89 people who were left in shock on Tuesday when its US owner flew in to announce the Belfast site will close.

The Unite union said there will be 63 redundancies at the Belfast base on Alexander Road as it is run down over a 24-month period. If the closure proceeds, the job losses will start early next year and finish by November.

Unite's regional officer George Brash is due to meet with employees this morning.

"They may have been aware of financial difficulties in the Belfast shop, but I think the closure announcement was certainly a surprise when I spoke to them on Tuesday," he said. "Redundancy is one thing, but an actual closure is completely different. I would say it's a shock."

He added: "It's a body blow to manufacturing in east Belfast and Northern Ireland as a whole."

A collective agreement is in place for workers to receive an enhanced redundancy package.

Mr Brash said in a statement that manufacturing had been left "defenceless" by the absence of a Stormont strategy.

"For its part, the company are citing global competition, market pricing pressure and financial performance in Belfast as justifying their decision, but it is likely this is about the race-to-the-bottom in production going to lower-cost locations," he said.

The business was established in 1955, manufacturing valves for the oil and gas, power, petrochemical and water markets.

A Crane Co spokesman said on Tuesday that some staff could be offered jobs at other Crane sites and in a smaller Belfast office.

Manufacturing NI chief executive Stephen Kelly said the closure was a consequence of falling prices in the gas and oil market.

Local DUP councillor David Brooks called it "terrible news".

Belfast Telegraph