Union unveils jobs-saving proposal for Gallaher’s

Unite says it has found a way to rescue 500 of the 876 jobs under threat at Ballymena cigarette factory

Cigarette maker JTI Gallaher announced plans to shut its factory in County Antrim with the loss of almost 1,000 jobs last month

Cigarette maker JTI Gallaher announced plans to shut its factory in County Antrim with the loss of almost 1,000 jobs last month

 

The trade union Unite has produced a jobs-saving proposal which it claims could rescue 500 of the 876 jobs under threat at the Gallaher’s cigarette factory in Ballymena.

The factory’s parent company, Japan Tobacco International, (JTI) last month confirmed its Lisnafillan facility in Northern Ireland was one of a number of locations earmarked for closure as part of a major group-wide restructuring programme.

Jimmy Kelly, Unite’s regional secretary, believes that the union’s proposals which include developing a centre of excellence for pouch tobacco and cigar production at JTI-Lisnafillan, would ensure the plant’s future.

Speaking at Unite’s Belfast office on Wednesday Mr Kelly said: “JTI indicated that closing the plant would result in cost-savings of $89 million a year. Our counter-proposal would realise cost-savings of $60 million through the loss of jobs for cigarette manufacture, the adoption of lean production for pouch tobacco and cigar production at Lisnafillan and concessions on the issue of worker terms and conditions.”

Mr Kelly also said Unite’s propose could save JTI “approximately $150 million in capital and other transition costs and would significantly reduce the redundancy costs associated with all 876 workers losing their jobs”

He said the union wanted to promote the benefits of JTI retaining its facility in Ballymena and highlighted the “skills-base, strong staff retention and security around energy supply” among its chief strengths.

Unite has stressed however that the proposal also contains what it has described as significant concessions in terms and conditions as well as large-scale redundancies.

But Mr Kelly said he believed it was the only viable alternative to the closure of the entire factory.

“Over the next two days, Unite will seek agreement from our membership for our proposal. Should we be successful in that, we will need to secure support for our proposal from local and national political leaders before bringing it forward to the highest levels of JTI management”, Mr Kelly added.