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Minister Diane Dodds meets Caterpillar's bosses over 700 NI redundancies

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Assistance: Diane Dodds said her department is ready to support the firm

Assistance: Diane Dodds said her department is ready to support the firm

Assistance: Diane Dodds said her department is ready to support the firm

Northern Ireland Economy Minister Diane Dodds has told senior management at Caterpillar she is "disappointed" at its decision to shed 700 jobs at its Northern Ireland operations.

It is believed the bulk of the job losses will fall on the firm's Larne plant, with the firm's Springvale operation in west Belfast remaining unaffected.

Minister Diane Dodds and officials from Invest NI met senior management from Caterpillar NI yesterday.

Mrs Dodds reiterated her position that her department and Invest NI stand ready to support the company to mitigate the impact.

"I made clear my disappointment with yesterday's announcement by Caterpillar in Northern Ireland and expressed my strong wish that any redundancies are kept to an absolute minimum," she said.

"My department and Invest NI will continue to engage with the company and offer support as it enters a period of consultation to ensure the sustainability of both its sites in NI."

Caterpillar is a world-leading manufacturer of generators, and currently employs around 1600 people in Northern Ireland.

Making the announcement, the firm insisted the decision was not connected to Brexit or the current Covid-19 crisis.

Joe Creed, vice president of Caterpillar's Electric Power Division, said: "We recognise that what we are considering is difficult for our employees, their families and the community.

"We do not take these contemplations lightly; however, we must plan for future business needs to be competitive."

The Co Antrim town was stunned by news the US giant intended to slash its local workforce. East Antrim DUP MP Sammy Wilson said: "The news of 700 job losses at Caterpillar is a devastating blow for local workers, their families and manufacturing jobs in Larne.

"The sheer scale of the proposed job cuts will shock the community and leave many facing an uncertain future as we approach the Christmas period."

Trade union Unite branded the Caterpillar move as a "scandalous" profit grab at the expense of workers in Northern Ireland, and claimed production is set to be outsourced to India.

The job cuts will take place over the next 18 months, unless the firm has a change of heart.

Belfast Telegraph


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