28/11/2001

Engineering jobs shock for east Belfast

East Belfast has received a jobs shock after it was announced that manufacturing firm Hughes Christensen is to axe almost 90 jobs just after Christmas due to a slowdown in activity.

A subsidiary of American corporation Baker Hughes, the company supplies drill bits for the oil and gas exploration sector.

Speaking on behalf of Baker Hughes, Director of Investor Relations, Gary Flaharty said that the worldwide economy was to blame for the job losses. “This slowdown has led to a reduction in exploration and drilling activity,” he explained, adding that jobs also had to go at the company’s headquarters in America.

However, Mr Flaharty refused to provide any clarification on the exact nature of the Belfast redundancies, nor how many jobs would actually be shed, instead assuring that the company would try to avoid job cuts wherever possible.

Sammy Wilson, DUP Assembly member, described the news as providing “a warning” to other companies in the area that productivity must be increased to stave off further instances of job cuts.

“All of these job losses are in manufacturing and engineering and all of them are in east Belfast. It is very bad news for the area and is particularly bad coming up to Christmas,” he said. “It is a very worrying time for east Belfast, which was once considered a prosperous part of the city. But recent events now indicate that the Economy Minister needs to look closely at that IDB and LEDU are doing to promote jobs in the area.” (CL)

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