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Scale of Larne job losses ‘will shock the community’

East Antrim MP Sammy Wilson says plans to axe 700 jobs at Caterpillar is a devastating blow for the Larne economy.

The DUP representative said he will be raising the proposed redundancies at the US manufacturer’s Northern Ireland operations at Westminster.

In a joint statement, Mr Wilson and party colleagues Gordon Lyons MLA and David Hilditch 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.

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“We will be raising these job losses at Westminster, Assembly and local government level to ensure that all the necessary information and support which employees deserve is provided to them.

The US manufacturing firm, is planning to cut 700 jobs. Picture by: Arthur Allison/Pacemaker Press

“Given the global nature of Caterpillar, it is also important that Invest NI engage directly with the company to identify if there are any circumstances were jobs can be retained or if jobs from within the company could be identified and brought to the Larne site. In the past, fabrication and administration jobs were identified and transferred to Larne and it is important that all options are explored.

“There is never a good time to learn of job losses on this scale, but the pain will be particularly acute given the time of year and the economic shock which has been caused by Covid-19. Working with our colleague, the Economy Minister, we will make sure that those affected get the support and advice they need at this difficult time.”

East Antrim UUP MLA Roy Beggs has also expressed concern at the announcement by Caterpillar.

Mr Beggs said: “The loss of up to 700 further jobs at Caterpillar will be devastating to the families involved. This will be especially the case at this time given the difficulties and uncertainty in the local economy as a result of Covid and concern over the outworking’s of Brexit.

East Antrim MP Sammy Wilson.

“There is an urgent need for government agencies to work together to try to minimise these job losses and to support and assist retraining those effected. Government needs to value manufacturing engineering, recognise its important to the local economy and assist in upskilling to able businesses to retain a competitive edge on international competition.”

Meanwhile, Mid East Antrim Borough Council said it will provide full support to all those impacted by this morning’s announcement regarding restructuring at Caterpillar.

The Mayor, Councillor Peter Johnston, said: “We are working closely with the firm and will be doing everything within our powers to help and support everybody affected by this announcement.

“Caterpillar is a major employer within our local economy, and is a giant of our manufacturing sector. The wider economic benefit it provides is hugely significant, including the supply chain.

The Mayor of Mid and East Antrim, Cllr Peter Johnston.

“We will continue to work closely, through our Manufacturing Taskforce and our senior elected representatives, and we reiterate our full support for all those who face an anxious wait and uncertain future.

“This borough has a track record of continuing to fight, even when people think it’s over, and we have helped companies to remain open or seek alternatives, including most recently Wrightbus, the Kilroot and Ballylumford Power Stations, and the Michelin site. We will continue with this mindset in relation to these roles at Caterpillar.”

Click here to read: Major blow for Larne as Caterpillar plans to cut 700 jobs.

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