Belfast Telegraph

Mass meeting challenge cuts to 220+ Newtownabbey oil jobs

By Michael Sheils McNamee

A mass meeting of Schlumberger workers has taken place to oppose the proposed closure of its Newtownabbey branch.

It emerged last week the company - one of the world's largest oil firms - would be closing its operation due to a downturn in the global oil and gas industry.

Over 220 workers are employed at the plant, the majority of which are represented by union Unite.

Speaking to the Belfast Telegraph, Unite regional secretary designate Jackie Pollock said Monday's meeting had been "productive" and workers were in agreement about building a business case for keeping the plant open over the coming weeks.

"It is a profitable plant. In the weeks and months ahead, they will be putting a case together to put to the company," he said.

"[Schlumberger] put a proposal to the workforce on Thursday - that proposal isn’t acceptable. It isn’t acceptable that the work from the plant goes to Mexico, China or the United States."

It is understood on Thursday October 26 workers at the plant were informed plans were in place to shut the plant next summer.

According to Unite, the company has said it intends to relocate the jobs from the Newtownabbey plant to Mexico, China and the United States.

In a statement, Mr Pollock said: "Unite rejects the case for this proposal and question why workers in Northern Ireland in particular are being asked to pay the price for what has been a global downturn in the oil and gas sector."

The potential job losses at the plant in Newtownabbey come at a challenging time for the Northern Ireland manufacturing sector.

Major employer Bombardier announced last week it would be cutting 280 jobs from its local operations, following a decision by authorities in the United States to impose a 300% tariff on planes sold into the United States.

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