Major blow for Larne as Caterpillar plans to cut 700 jobs

US manufacturing giant Caterpillar has announced plans to axe 700 jobs in Northern Ireland.

The US company's Larne plant.

The contemplated changes would predominately affect operations in Larne with production, support and management positions impacted.

The company, which has 1,600 employees in the province, announced today (Thursday) it is opening a consultation process for the restructuring of its electric power division operations here.

The move, Caterpillar states, supports ongoing plans to better utilise existing capacity and improve cost competitiveness. The job losses would predominantly affect operations at Old Glenarm Road as the plan would include a relocation of a portion of that work and the relocation of some engineering activities to other Caterpillar facilities.

Joe Creed, Caterpillar vice president of the 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 company is also considering the sale of the Millennium offices building located in the Springvale Business Park, relocating the remaining employees to the Larne facility.

The US firm said it is not a closure of Caterpillar’s operations in Northern Ireland, but a strategic evaluation to make a more efficient use of manufacturing footprint.

Consultation on intended actions will occur with the appropriate representative groups for the hourly and salaried workforce. During the consultation process, Caterpillar said it is committed to ongoing communication with employees to provide more information on the proposed changes.

If finalised, the transition could begin this year and would be expected to be completed in the next 12 to 18 months.

The company added it also has the intention to provide severance packages to redundant employees and consider outplacement services from appropriate agencies to ensure they have support during this transition.

Read a previous Caterpillar-related story here

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