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Devastating: Mixture of shock and sadness on streets of Larne over Caterpillar job cuts

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Philip Cash

Philip Cash

Stunned: The Larne Caterpillar plant will see 700 job losses

Stunned: The Larne Caterpillar plant will see 700 job losses

Philip Cash

A man who has worked for more than 20 years at the Caterpillar factory in Larne has spoken of his shock after the company cut 700 jobs.

Another former employee with a young family who was made redundant from the factory during the summer because of Covid-19 called it a devastating blow for the town, with replacement jobs almost impossible to come by.

Others with family and friends still at the factory said they feared for the huge knock-on effect that losing so many salaries will bring.

There was a mix of shock and sadness in Larne on Thursday as the news spread.

Speaking to the Belfast Telegraph on an almost deserted main street in the town, a current Caterpillar employee of 23 years, who did not want to be named, said he was stunned.

"They came in to tell us in the morning, just after 8am. We had no indication at all it was happening. I was on night shift and was told to stay behind," he said.

"All we've heard is that it will be a year to 18 months before the jobs will end."

In a statement, Caterpillar have said the job losses were not due to the pandemic but necessary to keep the business competitive.

Reacting, the long-serving employee said: "They're terrible, it's wild what they've done to come in and tell us at the last minute. Everyone's taking it really bad."

Philip Cash (32) from Larne recently lost his temporary job of three-and-a-half years at the factory.

Speaking outside the premises on Thursday evening, he said: "I saw it coming. During all this (the pandemic) I was laid off during the summer. I have young children at home so I had no other option.

"I've not been able to find anything since, I'm just applying for things. It will definitely be missed in the town, I did enjoy working there but they just weren't making anybody full-time."

Nicola McCartney (49), a school kitchen assistant from Larne, said it was a heartbreaking blow for many families.

"It's so hard for the town because so many people from here work there. Another thing is that if something like that happens, you would go to the pub for a pint and drown your sorrows but you can't even do that now.

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Nicola McCartney

Nicola McCartney

Nicola McCartney

"It's just so sad for everyone especially coming up to Christmas."

Retiree Lorna R McAleese (86) has several younger family members working at the factory

"I know they were very happy working there. Larne used to be one of the busiest industrial towns in Co Antrim but look at it now, it's just stripped of everything," she said.

"We used to have the paper mill, STC, Nortel and so many other places but they've all gone."

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Lorna R McAleese

Lorna R McAleese

Lorna R McAleese

Stephen McAllister works at SD Kells Men's Clothing on Larne's Main Street.

"I do know customers who work for Caterpillar, it's big part of the town. A lot of them will also have travelled from elsewhere and brought their business here," he said.

"It's certainly a huge shock after a very hard time for Larne.

"This year has been a disaster for us, we were closed for 11 weeks during the first lockdown and business has just been very patchy since."

Belfast Telegraph


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