Caterpillar job losses 'a devastating blow'

Caterpillar workers were told the news on Thursday afternoon. Credit: Press Eye

The potential loss of 250 jobs at Caterpillar and closure of the firm’s Monkstown base has been described as a “devastating blow” for the area.

Following the announcement on Thursday afternoon, the union Unite called for action from the Northern Ireland Executive to help the “beleaguered” manufacturing sector.

Regional Coordinating Officer Davy Thompson said: “Thousands of experienced, highly-skilled and now redundant, manufacturing workers need appropriate employment opportunities.

“Giving up on manufacturing is not an option for these workers or the communities which face post-industrial futures.

“Unite will be fully engaging with Caterpillar management during the upcoming consultation period and will seek to minimise the impact of this announcement and secure our members’ employment.”

Sinn Féin MP for East Antrim Oliver McMullan said: "My first thoughts are with the workers and their families as they absorb this awful news today.

"Not only is it a severe blow for them but also for the economy of the wider area.

"Management at the company now need to work with staff and their trade union representatives to make sure employees are kept up to date with all developments.”

East Antrim DUP MLA Alastair Ross said: "Clearly this is another difficult day for the Caterpillar workforce, particularly those in the Monkstown plant with significant job losses of up to 250 employees.

“Whilst it will be of little comfort to those who have lost their job today, it is important that the other two sites in Larne and Belfast are staying as part of their restructuring plans and can hopefully work to attract new production lines in the future.

“I have been in contact with local management to see what support government can offer and to seek assurances on the future plans for Caterpillar's presence in Northern Ireland."

UUP MLA Steve Aiken said: "The people who are losing their jobs do not need more cliché filled statements of sympathy from politicians; they need to be shown that Stormont actually has a clue and a plan for what to do now to give them an economic future.

“Today I repeat our appeal for the Stormont Executive to produce an industrial manufacturing strategy.

“It is happening in Scotland and at Westminster under the new Prime Minister. It must now happen in Northern Ireland."