Ulster Unionist Party MLA Roy Beggs Jnr has expressed his shock at the scale of the job losses announced by engineering firm FG Wilson.
The East Antrim MLA said:
“In the wake of the initial announcement of redundancies at FG Wilson, I met with their Northern Ireland Operations Manager Robert Kennedy and other senior management at the Larne factory earlier this summer. I was made me aware of the pressures they were experiencing regarding their smaller Generator sets, which had resulted in the announcement of the earlier job losses and their decision to establish a production facility in Asia. But like everyone else, I have been shocked by this second announcement and the scale of redundancies proposed. It seems amazing that relatively recently the firm were announcing significant profits, investing in new production lines, and taking on extra staff. It appears that the financial crisis in the Euro-zone has accelerated a process where the US owned company is shifting their operations east to the growing markets in India and China.
The Old Glenarm Factory has been a mainstay of the local economy down the years with many families depending on the jobs provided by BTH, then GEC and latterly FG Wilsons on this site. It was once the biggest turbine works in Europe when the British Thomson Houston Company (BTH) built the factory back in 1957. Of course in the past there have been fluctuations in employment levels at the Larne site. This time however, I am aware of concerns from employees that even more job losses could be in the pipeline. Given the lack of clarity around the current redundancies I would call on the company to make a clearer statement about the future employment prospect for their remaining employees.”
Mr Beggs also called for action on job retention and creation from the NI Executive at Stormont. He said:
“The Stormont Executive also needs to step up and provide a coherent economic strategic to actually deliver a re-balanced economy, rather than just talking about it. The never ending talks about the possibility of reducing Corporation Tax in Northern Ireland needs to come to a conclusion one way or another. The Executive has been completely incoherent on this issue, with Enterprise Minister Arlene Foster in favour of a reduction in the rate, whilst her Executive Colleague Sammy Wilson is apparently against. They need to get their act together and make a decision on it. Whilst a reduction in Corporation tax may not have staved off the current job losses at FG Wilson, but it could have a significant impact on future decisions.
The Executive and Invest NI also need to get their act together to quickly re-establish a properly resourced local business start-up programme. The economy was meant to be the number one priority for the NI Executive, but quite frankly with the DUP and Sinn Fein in charge, they appear to have been asleep at the wheel. The NI Executive must focus on the need of local economy and local businesses so that real jobs can be created and sustained into the future. Too many of our young people are already unemployed. We need more opportunities for them not less.”