29/01/2010

NI Engineering Jobs Lost

It was announced yesterday that the Hughes Christensen drill bit factory in east Belfast was to close with the loss of 210 jobs.

Parent company Baker Hughes said its operations would move to Texas.

The factory at Castlereagh has been in operation for 55 years making drill bits for the oil and gas industry.

The company made 135 people redundant last year, blaming a decline in the world market for drill bits.

Robin Newton, East Belfast DUP MLA, has expressed deep disappointment at the announcement of the jobs losses: "This announcement comes as a shock, as in previous contact with the company and Invest Northern Ireland, I had hoped the company had stabilised and the previous redundancy programme had been completed.

"This is very bad blow for the Northern Ireland manufacturing base and the many individuals and families who rely on the firm for their livelihood," he said.

Meanwhile, trade unions are hoping to meet the management of Avaya after news broke of hundreds of other engineering jobs losses.

The union Unite claimed the US telecoms firm, which bought part of Nortel, is pulling out of Northern Ireland, with the loss of 140 jobs in Monkstown, Newtownabbey.

Stormont Enterprise Minister and Acting First Minister, Arlene Foster said Invest NI was continuing to build relationships with Avaya.

"I understand that local employees have been verbally briefed about Avaya's intention to consolidate as part of a European restructuring plan," she said.

"It would be inappropriate to speculate further until Avaya makes a formal announcement."

(BMcC/GK)

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