31/01/2002

Delegation from Craigavon meets with Enterprise Minister

With a number of recent jobs losses in the Craigavon area, a delegation from the area met with Enterprise, Trade and Development Minister Sir Reg Empey to discuss employment problems in the area.

MLAs, Brid Rodgers (SDLP), Dara O'Hagan (SF), and George Savage (UUP) accompanied trade union officials Dessie Henderson, Dwyer McKerr and Adriam McGrath, in a joint effort to raise the issue with the Minister on Wednesday, January 31.

Among the employment issues discussed were the 95 jobs to be axed at carpet tile manufacturers Interface Europe’s factory in Lurgan within the next few months and the extent of other recent jobs losses in the Craigavon area.

Speaking after the meeting the delegates said the Minister had expressed a willingness to work with the company and to facilitate any possible feasible initiatives. Furthermore, it was agreed that in an effort to halt the erosion of the manufacturing base in Craigavon that a local council, MLA and trade union forum should be established to help formulate a strategic approach to the area's economic difficulties.

MLA for the area Brid Rodgers said the delegation were "determined to protect and enhance the jobs prospects for the people of the area," described the meeting as "useful and constructive".

The jobs losses announced at Interface are as a result of the company relocating a backing process carried out in Lurgan to other sites in England and Holland.

A spokesman for the company blamed the move on the global recession that had forced Interface to cut costs and capacity in the USA, continental Europe and the UK in order to match capacity with reduced demand.

It is hoped that Lurgan's Interface operation will continue to employ a workforce of around 70 producing tufted carpeting.

The plant, which uses a specialised tufting technology, recently underwent a refit as part of a £500,000 investment. (SP)

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