13/02/2018

Up To 95 Jobs Under Threat at Wrightbus In Ballymena

Up to 95 jobs could be axed at Wrightbus in Ballymena, the firm has confirmed.

The company announced it has started a consultation process and is currently experiencing "challenging marketing conditions".

Chairman of Wrights Group, Mark Nodder OBE, commented: "Wrightbus, along with the rest of the industry, is facing some very difficult conditions in its domestic market at present, with current order intake for new vehicles at relatively low levels. In order that the business remains competitive in the long term, it is vital that we promptly take appropriate steps to align our production capacity to projected demand in the foreseeable future.

"We have continued to invest in our product range so that it remains best in class in terms of fuel efficiency and environmental performance. The company will therefore be well positioned when market conditions improve.

"As a privately-owned business and one of the largest employers in Northern Ireland, we have not come to this decision lightly and it is done with a heavy heart. However, we operate in dynamic marketplace with competition from around the globe and we must respond and react accordingly. We will naturally work with the union and employee representatives to ensure that we manage the process in the most sympathetic way possible for all affected."

Unite the union said the latest announcement has come as a "hammer blow" for Ballymena.
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Regional Officer George Bash said: "We understand that the job losses are the result of the loss of sales to Transport for London in addition to the protracted delay in new orders coming in from Translink. In the first case, Unite has lobbied directly the Mayor of London's office making the case to support UK workers. The fact that the contract for the purchase of London Transport buses has been transferred to China and Egypt is an inexcusable betrayal of Northern Ireland workers and represents a false economy to the UK taxpayer overall.

"We are also concerned by reports that the delay in sales under the Translink contract may be due to the absence of an accountable Minister. Wrightbus has a five-year contract to supply Translink but unfortunately authorisation for the new environmentally-friendly hybrid buses has not been forthcoming because it apparently needs Ministerial sign-off. If this is true, then the workers of Wrightbus are paying the price for the continued impasse and the failure of our politicians.

"For our part, Unite will redouble our efforts to break the logjam on orders and defend Northern Ireland jobs. We need to see our politicians and the economic development agency, Invest NI doing likewise. We are calling for a Manufacturing strategy, to include an Economic Taskforce with trade union representation, to tackle the impact of these job losses and those over previous years."

(CD)

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