Wrightbus hiring 200 staff as rebuilding drive kicks into action
The new owner of Wrightbus has confirmed it is hiring 200 staff but admitted it would not reach former workforce numbers in the near future.
Bamford Bus Company is hiring engineers to join the existing 100 staff in Ballymena who were kept on immediately after the sale, which was concluded last month.
The new recruits, many of whom will be drawn from the ranks of the 1,400 people who lost their jobs in the company's administration, will be phased in over the next few months.
The company is also looking for coachbuilders, welders and spray painters.
Another wave of recruitment will begin in the next few months, but Wrightbus chief executive Buta Atwal said: "In the near future it is not likely that the company will employ as many people as it did before it entered administration.
"Over the longer term, it is of course our ambition to rebuild the company and ensure that Wrightbus is as big and successful as possible.
"We hope to attract the brightest and best talent to help us rebuild this great company and we encourage anyone who is interested in the roles we are recruiting for to get in touch."
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The company, which is led by executive chairman Jo Bamford, the son of JCB chairman Lord Bamford, this week announced that the first buses to be finished since the takeover had taken to the streets of Leeds.
Trade union Unite said it was negotiating with Bamford Bus Company to ensure that the terms and conditions of former staff who reapply for their old jobs are maintained. George Brash of Unite said it was also in talks with Bamford to ensure that the use of agency workers was limited.
The Wrightbus regional union officer added: "Unite has been meeting directly with the new owners to secure commitments that Bamford's use of agency staffing will be strictly time-bound and that there will be a swift transition to a situation where all workers are taken off temporary (contracts) and put onto permanent contracts.
"In addition to this we have made it clear there must be continuity on pay and conditions of employment. Unite will continue to represent our members' interests on this matter. We will continue to engage with management and will monitor the situation, keeping our members informed at all stages."
He also said investment and job creation was vital to "provide continuity of the workers' terms of employment and permanent employment for all".
"This is a highly-skilled workforce and it is vital that Ballymena continues to grow as a hub for cutting-edge bus manufacturing," Mr Brash added.