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Coronavirus: 140 Caterpillar staff to be furloughed for three-week plant closure

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Production at the Larne headquarters is not affected

Production at the Larne headquarters is not affected

Production at the Larne headquarters is not affected

Around 140 staff at the west Belfast assembly line of manufacturer Caterpillar are to be ‘furloughed’ during a three-week closure of the site.

A spokesman for the US-owned equipment giant confirmed it would be closing temporarily from next Monday until April 24.

However, the Larne headquarters of Caterpillar, where generators for crucial uses such as hospitals, telecoms and food factories are made, remain open.

It’s understood around 140 staff are affected by the closure of the site at Springvale in west Belfast.

They will be placed on the UK government’s job retention scheme, which provides for staff who have been temporarily laid-off to be paid 80% of their wages by the government.

A spokesman for Caterpillar NI said: “The Caterpillar assembly facility in Springvale will temporarily suspend production from Monday, April 6 through Friday April 24. Impacted employees will now be furloughed in line with the UK Government Job Retention Scheme for this entire period.

The move to shut the site follows challenges of supply and falling demand for its products.

Springvale manufactures other items such as axles for large trucks. It’s understood the reopening date of April 24 will be kept under review.

Caterpillar is the latest company to lay-off staff in large numbers. Earlier this week, Quinn Industrial Holdings in Derrylin, Co Fermanagh, announced it was laying off 600 workers and putting them on the government’s job retention scheme.

However, some other big companies have made staff redundant with no plan to use the job retention scheme. Last week, Thompson Aero Seating in Portadown let 350 staff go.

Belfast Telegraph