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Engineering firm cuts workforce by a quarter

An engineering firm which makes equipment for the oil industry is shedding nearly a quarter of its workforce, it was announced today.

Schlumberger is cutting its workforce of 300 in Mallusk, Co Antrim, in Northern Ireland, by 69, on top of six to eight redundancies two months ago.

The company - part of a US owned multi-national - has been hit by the fall in the oil price which has been welcomed by so much of industry.

The company said the job cuts were because of reduced activity in the oilfield services sector.

The redundancies were scheduled to come into effect in September.

Terry Collins, regional organiser for the Unite union said: "The factory concentrates primarily on the oil industry and unfortunately there is a glut of oil on the international markets and demand for oil field equipment is down.

"It has been slack from the start of the year, they had expanded over the last two and a half to three years and they had invested heavily in the site.

"When oil was 150 dollars a barrel there was high demand for their products, but prices have bottomed out."

Mr Collins said the company had indicated they expected an upturn in demand in 2010.

But he said: "These are highly skilled jobs and when they are lost it is often difficult to to get them back again."

He is meeting management for discussions on the job cuts on Thursday and said he was not confident of being able to reduce the number of redundancies.

Meanwhile there was what almost passes for good news on the employment front in the current climate - another Co Antrim firm making less than half the redundancies it had previously announced.

Internationally successful bus and coach builder Wrightbus said it had managed to reduced the 235 redundancies it announced in February by 60% due to the co-operation of staff and others and would continue to pursue new market opportunities to ensure the future success of the company.

The company currently employs around 1,000 at it's plant in Ballymena.

Managing director Mark Nodder said: "To date we, Unite, Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Investment Arlene Foster, representatives from the Department of Employment and learning, and Invest NI have worked tirelessly to lesson the number of staff affected by redundancies."

They had worked to ensure those affected by the consultation period were properly supported and advised on other job opportunities and training available to them, he said.

"We will continue to do everything we can to minimise the effect on our workforce and would like to thank them all for their excellent service and co-operation in this difficult time."

Belfast Telegraph


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