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Fears mass lay-offs on horizon as staff return to factories in Northern Ireland


Stephen Kelly of Manufacturing NI

Stephen Kelly of Manufacturing NI

Stephen Kelly of Manufacturing NI

Manufacturing in Northern Ireland remains in dangerous territory with the risk of mass redundancies by the summer despite a gradual return to work by firms, it has been claimed.

Large numbers of manufacturers have resumed work over the last eight days, with Terex - one of the biggest here employing 1,800 - reopening at reduced capacity across its four sites yesterday.

But Stephen Kelly, head of Manufacturing NI, said jobs were still at risk at many firms due to a fall in demand, among other factors.

Others, like Terex, are operating at a decreased capacity because of social distancing.

In addition, with the Government's furlough scheme due to run out in October, he said there is a risk of redundancies in the summer.

Companies planning on cutting more than 100 staff are required to give 90 days' notice.

And Mr Kelly said manufacturing firms who had not qualified for grant assistance would be in a fight for survival even if they had been able to avail of the Government's Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme to furlough staff.

"The furloughing really only picks up a third of costs; for the rest you have raw materials and then other expenses like repayments for your existing borrowing along with your electricity, stock and other standing charges," he explained.

Belfast Telegraph