25/01/2002

Trade minister meets Northern Ireland trade union representatives

The Stormont Trade Minister Sir Reg Empey has met with representatives from the Northern Ireland Committee, Irish Congress of Trade Unions in order to discuss the present economic situation.

Speaking after the meeting on Thursday January 24, Sir Reg said: “This was a constructive meeting which focused on the current economic situation and in particular the state of Northern Ireland industry following the September 11th events and trends in employment.

“The agenda touched on many issues and provided me with the opportunity to hear further views on current difficulties within the aerospace industry and in sectors, such as ICT and textiles, which have been affected by global economic changes. I reiterated my Department’s commitment to doing all that is within its power to protect jobs within these industries.”

The minister explained that although Northern Ireland had been effected by global events beyond its control, the region’s economy remained strong with Northern Ireland’s manufacturing output growth outstripping UK counterparts.

Sir Reg said: “Economically the world is becoming a much smaller place, for example, a company here is now effectively competing with firms not just in Europe, but, in the Far East. We cannot compete in terms of cost of labour with such locations, but one thing we can do is focus more on R&D to access markets and create products which have a world leading competitive edge.

“My Department, and its associated agencies, and in April 2002 Invest Northern Ireland, will continue to support companies in making such transitions.”

The Irish Congress of Trade Unions is the central trade union body in Ireland. Its affairs in Northern Ireland are conducted by the Northern Ireland Committee, which represents 36 affiliated trade unions with a membership in excess of 220,000. (AMcE)

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