North firm to cut 760 jobs
Up to 760 jobs are to be cut by a major engineering company in the North, it was announced today.
FG Wilson, which is part of the international Caterpillar corporation, said the losses are part of measures to make the business more efficient and competitive.
The company makes diesel generator sets in Larne, Co Antrim, but three other sites in the greater Belfast area will be hit as well. The 760 includes about 170 agency workers who were told in June that their jobs would go.
Union leaders said they were shocked by the scale of the redundancies at the company, which employs more than 3,000 people across the four sites in the North.
Robert Kennedy, FG Wilson’s Northern Ireland operations director, said: “We understand these decisions will be difficult for the lives of many of our workers and their families, and we genuinely regret that.
“We are striving to reduce some of the impact by offering an enhanced VR package. We’ll also help redeploy displaced workers by providing training on new skill sets, partnering with potential Northern Ireland employers to host job fairs and hiring a placement service.”
The company announced in June that it was moving production of its 400 series generator sets to Tianjin, China, to build the product closer to its growing customer base.
Mr Kennedy added: “We realise the announcements we’re making affect a company that has a rich history in Northern Ireland. However, given our current structure and economic environment, portions of our portfolio are not competitive, and we need to react accordingly for long-term growth and to compete for industry leadership.
“Caterpillar is committed to building the remaining business in Northern Ireland and to working closely with local government, including Invest Northern Ireland, as we’re focused on keeping it competitive and sustainable for the future.”
FG Wilson exports globally and has manufacturing facilities in Brazil, China, India and the United States. Its Larne plant has, in the past, been praised as the “hub of Caterpillar’s substantial electric power division”.
Employees were told in July the group intended to restructure its small generator set business to “become a leaner team”, and that it would launch what it has described as a two-month evaluation of its salaried and management team before deciding which jobs could be “combined or removed to achieve efficiency improvements”.
FG Wilson indicated then job losses could take place by the fourth quarter, and workers feared up to 100 positions could be axed.
Today's announcement was made as the First Minister Peter Robinson and Deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness headed a mini summit to discuss the worsening economy and Northern Ireland’s unemployment rate of 8.2 per cent.
Additional reporting: PA