Concern As 100 Caterpillar Staff Face Redundancy

Elected representatives have said the potential for 100 job losses at the Caterpillar financial services centre in west Belfast would be a "devastating blow".

Concerns emerged following reports the manufacturing company is outsourcing its global financing operations.

It's understood staff were informed of the news this week, with redundancy packages to be made available.

"This is a major blow to West Belfast and also the wider Northern Ireland economy," local Alliance representative Donnamarie Higgins commented on Friday.

"One job loss is one too many, but to be faced with 100 job losses in an area with one of the highest unemployment rates in the UK is calamitous."

Ms Higgins called for a restoration of local Government to help mitigate the impact and protect the region's manufacturing industry.

She continued: "We need power-sharing to return so we can focus on better supporting the industry, and attract and retain high quality jobs in Northern Ireland."

Meanwhile, Sinn Fein condemned the move, which comes at a time of heightened economic uncertainty as the UK approaches its deadline for departure from the EU.

West Belfast MP Paul Masked said: "I have been engaging with the workers to hear their concerns and I am seeking an urgent meeting with the company.
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"Given the ongoing uncertainty over Brexit, this will only add to the pressure on the local economy and community.

"Management at the company now need to work with staff and to make sure employees are kept up to date with all developments and if the jobs cannot be saved, they should be offered retraining and up-skilling opportunities."

The under-threat roles are set to be transferred to outsourcing firm Accenture, which does not operate in Northern Ireland.

The SDLP has requested an urgent meeting with Caterpillar and relevant trade unions in order to support the staff facing redundancy.

Councillor for west Belfast Brian Heading expressed regret at the news, saying: "Caterpillar's West Belfast base has provided skilled jobs for local people here for a long time. This announcement will cause significant concern for local workers who, I understand, have been told that redundancy packages are on offer."

Local SDLP representative Paul Doherty added: "The transfer of Caterpillar's global finance operation to Accenture is bound to cause significant concern in West Belfast. With no local Accenture operation these jobs are under threat and workers will be worried about their future.

"I have been in touch with the company this morning seeking clarity around the future of workers at the site. We will do all we can to support them."


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