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More Christmas jobs misery as haulage firm goes into liquidation

By Linda McKee and Ashleigh Wallace

There is more jobs misery on the way for Ulster with the announcement of the loss of 200 jobs in north Antrim, and the closure of a poultry plant in Craigavon.

Over 200 employees at haulage firm Reid Transport in Co Antrim were dealt a pre-Christmas blow after it emerged that the company has gone into liquidation.

Despite attempts to sell the company, administrators were called in which resulted in the loss of over 200 jobs. The firm, which is based in Cloughmills, is making every effort to secure redundancy payments for its workers before Christmas.

It is understood a small number of employees are being kept on to assist the running-down of the operation, but drivers have been told their current journey will be their last.

Sinn Fein MLA Daithi McKay said he was contacted by a number of " distressed employees" last night, who turned up for work yesterday to be told they had lost their jobs.

He said: "This is devastating news and a bolt out of the blue for hundreds of employees who recently received letters of reassurance that their jobs were safe. This is a terrible blow for any family in the lead-up to Christmas. We now need a concerted effort from the Executive to address the employment gap not only here in north Antrim, but in other areas of need such as the north west."

Meanwhile, meat plant Moy Park last night warned staff it must close its Moira plant because of cheap foreign competition. However, the company said if the shutdown at the plant goes ahead there may be no job losses as workers could be transferred to the larger plant at Craigavon.

Some 203 staff will be offered employment in Craigavon, while relocation opportunities could be possible for 25 administrative staff. A consultation period with workers looks likely to be held before a final decision is taken.

A spokesman for Moy Park said: "Our products might be some of the best on the market, but in today's market price drives the buying decision almost above all other factors." The firm blamed cheap imports and reduced demand for the closure.

First Minister Ian Paisley revealed he had been in contact with Moy Park's managing director and said he was "encouraged" the company intended to offer alternative positions to its affected workforce. Lagan Valley MP Jeffery Donaldson expressed his regret at the announcement, saying the closure would "undoubtedly have a knock-on effects for other businesses in the town".

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