Mayor vows council support for Monkstown Caterpillar workers

Press Eye Belfast - Northern Ireland 1st September 2016  

The Caterpillar factory in Moonkstown outside Belfast where staff wait to hear the outcome of job losses at the plant and the companies other plants across Northern Ireland including west Belfast and Larne. 

Picture by Jonathan Porter/Press Eye
Press Eye Belfast - Northern Ireland 1st September 2016 The Caterpillar factory in Moonkstown outside Belfast where staff wait to hear the outcome of job losses at the plant and the companies other plants across Northern Ireland including west Belfast and Larne. Picture by Jonathan Porter/Press Eye

Mayor John Scott says the council will offer support to workers affected by the closure of Caterpillar’s Monkstown plant.

The UUP representative spoke out after workers at the company’s three plants were told that up to 250 production, support and management positions are expected to go across the firm’s three plants in Larne, Monkstown and Springvale.

The move is part of a restructuring of the firm’s operations in Northern Ireland due to current economic and business conditions and lower demand.

As part of the plan, the Monkstown plant would close and logistics would be consolidated in Larne and Springvale.

Production for electric power generator sets in Monkstown would go to Larne and production of truck axles to 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.

The transition could begin this year and be completed in the next 12 to 24 months.

Cllr Scott said that Antrim and Newtownabbey Borough Council would offer as much support as possible to the workers affected.

“This is a devastating blow, people are very worried and they don’t know whose jobs are going,” he told the Times.

“Stormont should have a manufacturing strategy in place, but council will offer advice on training and starting up a business through the GROW fund to those affected. We are also in touch with Invest NI to see if we can get a jobs fair in the area, and we have a start up programme too.”

Cllr Scott said that many Caterpillar workers who had worked at the Monkstown plant for decades had been left “angry” at the situation.

“They have such specialist jobs and some may be transferred to Larne or Springvale but if not there aren’t many other employers, and it is a pity to lose specialist skills from the area,” he continued.

“Many worked for FG Wilson’s before Caterpillar. They have families and mortgages and it’s only 16 weeks to Christmas.”

The UUP man also raised concerns over the impact on the wider Newtownabbey economy.

“I am concerned over the ripple effect on other businesses, not just those in the supply chain but all the local shops,” he concluded.

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