Hundreds of jobs to go at FG Wilson

FG Wilson's Monkstown plant
FG Wilson's Monkstown plant

THERE was shock this week as one of the borough’s largest employers announced that hundreds of jobs are to be cut.

FG Wilson has said 160 agency workers will be laid off at the end of the year as the company moves part of its production to China.

And it is thought another 100 permanent staff are also to be made redundant as part of a separate evaluation to keep the business competitive.

FG Wilson - part of the Caterpillar company - has said it is restructuring its small generator business “to become a leaner team” and has begun a two-month review of its salaried and management team to achieve efficiency improvements and create a more competitive cost structure.

The company is also moving production of its 400-series generators to China in order to build the product closer to its growing customer base.

Employing over 2,000 people FG Wilson said it would not “speculate” on where the jobs would be lost, but said the cuts would affect its three plants at Monkstown, Larne and Springvale.

Trade union Unite said Monday’s (July 2) announcement came as a “shock” and it would be meeting with the company.

Terry Collins, Regional Official responsible for FG Wilson told the Times: “There had been rumours circulating that this was coming, but certainly the scale and number of jobs came as a shock. Many of those agency workers affected by this news will have been working for the company for the past three years and while the headline may be 260 jobs lost - which is horrendous - there could be more.

“We will be meeting with the company and asking about what potential there is for further changes in production which could impact jobs and we will be asking for them to secure the future of all three of their sites.”

East Antrim MLA Alastair Ross said the news was a “huge blow” and that local companies are not immune from uncertain global market conditions.

“What is important now is that those impacted by the decision are given all the support they need and I have written to Employment and Learning Minister Stephen Farry to ascertain what support his Department will be offering at this time,” he said.

“Invest NI must also continue to engage with the company to ensure that FG Wilson is able to compete internationally and rebuild after this setback.”

Newtownabbey councillor Ken Robinson added: “This is terrible news for all those affected and the local community. With the recent news that Bombardier is expanding at the Nortel site, we had thought the worst of the downturn was behind us and companies were finding their way out.

“FG Wilson was one of the borough’s most respected and sturdy businesses and it is sad to hear it is moving part of its business, and workers are to lose their jobs.”

FG Wilson manufactures more than 50,000 generators a year to over 180 countries and is one of the country’s biggest exporters with over 90 per cent of its products going overseas.

A statement released by the company said: “FG Wilson, a wholly owned subsidiary of Caterpillar Inc., today (Monday, July 2) notified its workforce in Northern Ireland of two announcements focused on keeping the business competitive.

“First, FG Wilson is restructuring its small generator set business to become a leaner team. It is utilising a structured and disciplined approach to launch a two-month evaluation of its salaried and management team to determine what positions may be combined or removed to achieve efficiency improvements and create a more competitive cost structure. Employee reductions could begin as early as fourth quarter 2012.

“The company also announced it is moving production of its 400 series generator sets to Tianjin, China, in order to build the product closer to its growing customer base. Approximately 160 members of the agency workforce in Northern Ireland will be impacted as a result of the shift in production, which will begin later this year. These agency worker reductions are expected to take place by the end of 2012.

“Resources are in place to assist the workforce through this transition.”