East Antrim workers facing dole in run up to Christmas

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A bleak Christmas is predicted for workers facing redundancy from two US firms with plants in East Antrim.

Caterpillar, which has factories in Larne, Monkstown and Belfast, is shedding 100 posts, while Schrader Electronics in Carrickfergus is releasing 42 temporary staff.

East Antrim MLA Oliver McMullan said the announcements are a blow to the local economy.

The Sinn Fein representative said: “My thoughts are with the workers at Schrader and their families upon hearing this news. There is never a good time for such announcements but it is made all the worse coming up to Christmas.

“This announcement, coupled with the news that Caterpillar, which has a plant in Larne, is also set to shed jobs will hit the local economy hard.

“Management at both companies need to work with staff and their trade union representatives to ensure workers are informed about what is happening.

“Retraining opportunities should also be offered to staff to help them re-enter the job market locally.”

In a statement, Caterpillar said current weaknesses in the economies of some key markets are impacting on global demand for a number of products and it is taking necessary measures to help support the competitiveness and sustainability of the business for the future.

Schrader, which makes tyre pressure gauges for the car industry, pointed out that at the turn of the year its workforce increased temporarily to meet an rise in global vehicle and aftermarket growth, but as demand has now stabilised, it has been undertaking a phased return to standard manufacturing pattern.

Picking up on the global challenges facing the manufacturing sector, Alastair Ross MLA called for support for those losing their jobs.

The DUP man said: “It has been an incredibly difficult time for manufacturing in the Mid and East Antrim area with a number of job losses in recent times. The news today (Wednesday) that Schrader is cutting its Carrick workforce and now that Caterpillar is to let 100 workers go across sites in Larne, Monkstown and Belfast further compounds that bad news.

“Over the past number of years the workforce at Caterpillar has fluctuated up and down as the company competes in what is still a very challenging global market.

“Whilst the company will be seeking voluntary redundancies in the first instance, many people will be heading into the Christmas period knowing that they will be out of work and looking for new employment opportunities.

“It is important that workers impacted are supported and that Invest NI continues to offer assistance to the company to help them improve competitiveness in the market and assist in attracting new production lines to the Caterpillar sites.”