Around 700 jobs are to go at Caterpillar’s operational sites across Northern Ireland, the majority of them at the US manufacturing firm’s plant in Larne, County Antrim, over the next 18 months.
In a statement, Caterpillar say the job cuts are needed to “improve cost competitiveness” while the Unite union calls the move “devastating news” for the workforce.
“We recognise that what we are considering is difficult for our employees, their families and the community,” said Joe Creed, vice president of Caterpillar’s electric power division. “We do not take these contemplations lightly.”
Economy Minister Diane Dodds says the planned redundancies are hugely disappointing. She said the potential loss of up to 700 jobs would be a devastating blow to the local economy and many hard working families.
“The situation has arisen as a result of a decision made by Caterpillar at corporate level. The announcement and potential job losses are not directly related to Brexit or Covid-19.
“The company has clearly stated their announcement is not a closure announcement. I have confidence in Northern Ireland’s capability and that the Caterpillar operation will continue to be a key contributor to the manufacturing and engineering base in Northern Ireland.
“Since 2000 Caterpillar has invested £135million in Northern Ireland and been a major contributor to Northern Ireland’s reputation for manufacturing and engineering excellence.
“Invest NI will work with the Caterpillar Senior Management Team to mitigate potential impact on the Northern Ireland operation.”