Celebrations As Wrightbus Deal Agreed

Worry among workers at Ballymena bus manufacturer Wrightbus turned to joy on Friday as a deal was agreed with a new owner.

The company has secured an agreement in principal with English industrialist Jo Bamford, potentially safeguarding hundreds of jobs, after weeks of uncertainty and tense negotiations on Thursday.

The Unite union said the successful result was only achieved through the determined mobilisation of workers who never let up their efforts.

Workers had spent days waiting outside the Co Antrim factory to hear their fate, with the union now campaigning to maximise jobs under the new ownership and safeguard pay and conditions.

Wrightbus, best known for building the London routemaster, was placed into administration over two weeks ago threatening 1,200 roles and thousands more in the supply chain.

Mr Bamford announced on Friday morning he had agreed a deal in principal with the Wright family for the factory and land.

He said: "We are still to conclude a deal with the administratirs, but are pleased to report this important step in the right direction.

"I would like to thank Ian Paisley MP for his hard work and diligence in helping to mediate what has at times been a tricky negotiation."

Unite regional officer for Wrightbus George Brash said the mood among workers was jubilant as the sale means everything to staff, their families, and the wider Ballymena community.
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"This is a tremendous outcome for Ballymena – saving Wrightbus means saving the remaining manufacturing base of the local economy – but this result would never have been achieved without the mobilisation of this workforce," Mr Brash commented. "When others had vacated the field they rallied for their jobs, keeping the pressure on that was necessary to achieving this outcome.

"The skills and know-how this workforce possesses will be critical for the production of the public transport needed for the coming century."

Mr Bamford's firm will acquire the entire Wrightbus premises at Galgorm including the factory, fixtures and fittings as well as the associated land.

Commenting on the sale, current owner Jeff Wright announced he had gifted 40 acres of family owned farmland to Mid and East Antrim Council "by way of legacy for the people of Ballymena in recognition of their contribution over 70 years to the service of Wrightbus".

In a personal statement, Mr Wright said: "This legacy gift is a tribute not only to my father, his father before him, and the Wright family members but most importantly it is a tribute to the generations of workers who helped build a proud manufacturing tradition in Ballymena. It is my true wish to see this legacy used for the purposes of expanding manufacturing and benefiting our local community."

It's understood the land will be used by council for a landmark project.


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