Larne Caterpillar employees ‘relieved’ plant will stay open

Larne Caterpillar workers have expressed relief that the plant will not close after the company’s job cuts announcement.

Workers gathered at the company’s three plants in Larne, Monkstown and Springvale today (September 1) to hear that the company is considering a restructuring of its operations in Northern Ireland due to current economic and business conditions and lower demand.

Larne's Caterpillar factory. INLT-36-704-con

Larne's Caterpillar factory. INLT-36-704-con

This includes the potential closure of the Monkstown plant and consolidation of logistics in Larne and Springvale. The company may also discontinue production of 25-ton and larger material handlers in Northern Ireland, including the planned launch of large material handler models for Europe.

If finalised, production for electric power generator sets in Monkstown would be consolidated into Larne and production of truck axles will move into Springvale. This could result in the reduction of between 200 to 250 production, support and management positions across the Northern Ireland. The transition could begin this year and be completed in the next 12 to 24 months.

Several Larne workers said they were “relieved” at the news.

“We thought it would be a lot worse and we are releived that it wasn’t too bad,” said one man.

Caterpillar workers in Larne emerge after the job cuts announcement on September 1. INLT-36-705-con

Caterpillar workers in Larne emerge after the job cuts announcement on September 1. INLT-36-705-con

“They are moving to a voluntary redundancy programme now which will probably affect all three sites.

“However, it isn’t a great scenario: these are people’s livelihoods.

“We were told that around 190 shop floor jobs will go, and around 60 salaried workers.

“They said they will keep reviewing the situation, but it doesn’t give much hope.”

Another woman commented that it “always seemed to be shop floor workers rather than management” who bore the brunt of job cuts.

A fellow worker added that redundant workers would “have a hard time finding new jobs.”

“We don’t know yet how Larne will be affected,” he said.

“Those who lose their jobs will have a difficult time finding new ones with the closures of other manufacturing firms recently. It’s an uncertain time for workers and their families but at least the Larne plant will remain open.”

Caterpillar Vice President Tom Frake said that the firm “remains committed to Northern Ireland.”

The company said that redundant employees “will receive severance packages from the company and outplacement services.”