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The fall-out from the Caterpillar job cuts continues with pressure growing on Stormont to create a plan to prevent more job losses in the manufacturing sector.
The fresh calls come as talks are set to begin with the US firm in a bid to get the best financial deal for workers who are under threat.
A statement from the UK government issued in response to the Caterpillar announcement said:
Chief Executive of Invest Northern Ireland Alastair Hamilton has also expressed disappointment at Caterpillar’s decision to reduce its regional workforce.
He added that Invest NI will continue to provide input and guidance to the company and work to provide whatever support possible to help affected staff.
Mayor of Antrim and Newtownabbey Councillor John Scott, said the announcement that Caterpillar is planning to close its Monkstown plant is “devastating for our Borough and for all those Caterpillar employees living locally”.
“My thoughts, and those of my fellow Councillors, are with them and their families as they face this awful news today. I can only imagine how worrying this is for the families involved,” the Ulster Unionist councillor said.
“It is unclear today exactly how this will pan out for the Monkstown employees and what options there maybe for relocation and continued employment with Caterpillar but as Mayor I will be lobbying hard to try to influence the situation in any way I can.”
Economy Minister Simon Hamilton MLA has expressed his regret that Caterpillar is to reduce its workforce in Northern Ireland, adding the plan to close the Monkstown plant is “deeply disappointing”.
“Caterpillar are clearly experiencing a significant and sustained downturn in their business globally which has seen their revenues decline by 21% in the last five years. These job losses in Northern Ireland are part of the overall reduction of 10,000 staff across the company,” the Minister continued.
“The difficulties experienced by Caterpillar have been public knowledge for some time. As a result, we have intensified our engagement with the Company both locally and in the United States to ensure Caterpillar were fully briefed on the benefits as a manufacturing base and of the complete range of Government support available to them at this time.
“Between 1 April 2011 and 31 March 2016 Invest NI has provided over £270million of assistance to manufacturing firms here and I am determined to continue to support our manufacturing sector. My Department’s Careers Service will provide individuals with tailored, professional advice and guidance about the options and support available to them including employment, training and education opportunities.”
Staff at Caterpillar in Northern Ireland are expected to be given an update on the company’s future later this week.
It comes amid uncertainty over jobs at the US manufacturing firm.
Though few details are known at this stage, a spokesman for the company told UTV: “Caterpillar is committed to communicating regularly and directly with our employees about the business environment and any resulting changes.”
Sinn Féin MP Paul Maskey said: "Uncertainty over the future of Caterpillar's operations in the north will be no doubt distressing for workers and their families.
"Staff have been told to expect an announcement later in the week and there has been much speculation about what it will entail.
"It is vitally important that management at Caterpillar keep all employees up to date with the latest information as soon as possible."
Latest ITV News reports
The potential loss of 250 jobs at Caterpillar and closure of the firm’s Monkstown base has been described as a “devastating blow”.
Caterpillar has announced plans to close its Monkstown plant and cut between 200 and 250 jobs in Northern Ireland.