02/10/2002

Sir Reg acts to address East Antrim job losses

Enterprise Minister, Sir Reg Empey, has said he will chair a Forum on job losses in the East Antrim area – which will be held next Thursday in Carrickfergus.

The Forum will involve MLAs, councillors, economic development officers, business organisations, trade unions and company representatives.

Sir Reg said: “The announcement of 200 redundancies at Nortel Networks is the latest in a line of jobs losses in the area during the past week.

"While today’s announcement was not entirely unexpected - the company’s global statement at the end of August intimated that a return to profitability would result in job cuts - it is very regrettable and adds to my concern about the impact on individuals and on the East Antrim economy. The Forum will help focus minds on the types of action which might be taken to alleviate some of the problems that redundancies bring."

He added: “In the meantime, my concerns are for employees in Nortel, Getty Connections and Solectron. This is a very difficult time economically, but I have been assured of Nortel’s commitment to Northern Ireland.”

Beleaguered telecommunications company Nortel has announced that it is to shed 200 jobs from its Monkstown facility in County Antrim.

The news forms the latest in a long line of job losses at Nortel, which has been steadily shedding staff throughout the last eighteen months. The Nortel cutbacks follow on yesterday's revelations that electronics firm Solectron is to make 80 employees redundant at its plant in Carrickfergus, a town already hit hard by the imminent closure of Getty Connections, which will see 135 people lose their jobs.

Nortel cited unmanageable losses as driving its decision to drastically cut workforce numbers, and the move will see total employment at the Monkstown plant dropping to just 780, from a one-time peak of over 2,000. Most of the redundancies are to occur in the company's research and development division, which is to shed 120 workers, while the operations division will let go of 80 employees.

Following this fresh round of job cuts, the Federation of Small Businesses has warned that the spate of job losses in the east Antrim area could have a knock-on effect on many small companies operating in the region.

East Antrim Branch Chairman, David Shaw, described the Nortel announcement as "devastating news for the whole community" and called for "urgent action" from the DETI.

(CL)

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