14/09/2012

FG Wilson Job Losses 'Not Surprising' - Invest NI Head

The loss of 760 jobs at Larne company FG Wilson is disappointing but not surprising, the chief executive of Invest NI has said.

Alastair Hamilton said that if he was in charge of the company, he would also have made the job cuts.

The company, which makes diesel generator units, has received £1m in state funding over the past decade and posted pre-tax profits of £7.8m last year.

But it announced the cull of 760 jobs yesterday, and said a total of 1,300 jobs would be shed by next year.

The company said the moves would help it operate more efficiently.

Its owner Caterpillar already announced in June that it would move 70% of its production of small generator sets to China by 2014, meaning another reduction in the labour force.

Mr Hamilton told BBC Radio Ulster he could see a trend for things to move east, as demand had dropped in the eurozone.

Reaction to the FG Wilson announcement was mostly angrier than Mr Alistair's response.

West Belfast MP Paul Maskey said the job losses were "absolutely shocking" and the company needed to give more information.

David Hunter of Larne Traders Forum, spoke from the town that will be most affected by the cuts, saying people were "staring down the barrel" of "sheer devastation".

And Employment and Learning minister Stephen Farry said the announcement was "extremely regrettable" for "families, communities and the economy as a whole" and urged people affected to use the Redundancy Advice Service, which will go on-site.

(NE)

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