31/03/2009

'Disappointment' At West Belfast Job Losses

News that almost 600 jobs have been axed at car parts manufacturer Visteon after one of its subsidiaries in the UK was put into administration has gone down badly in Belfast.

The American-owned company employed roughly 600 people in its three branches in Basildon, Enfield and in a factory in west Belfast.

Sinn Féin West Belfast MP and party President, Gerry Adams (pictured) has expressed his "deep disappointment at the decision by Visteon to close its plant in Belfast".

"Sinn Féin has been liaising closely with the management of Visteon in Britain and in Belfast, and with the local workforce.

"Our goal throughout has been to retain much needed local employment and defend the rights of the Visteon workers.

"I have consistently argued that the Belfast plant of Visteon - formerly of Ford - should be treated as a special case.

"I understand that at the start of this year, Visteon UK embarked on a viability assessment of its three remaining plants, including Belfast," he said, noting that he believed Invest NI had met twice with Visteon about the Belfast plant during this period.
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"I have submitted priority written questions in the Assembly to the Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Investment about the role of Invest NI and what measures it took to protect the 200 jobs in the Visteon plant," Mr Adams continued.

"We need to be convinced that Invest NI and Visteon exhausted all available options to keep this plant open," he said.

The senior politician was commenting after administrator KPMG said it was making an initial 565 staff redundant out of the total workforce.

The company's Chairman and Chief Executive Donald Stebbins said: "Despite extensive restructuring efforts, the UK plants have continued to incur substantial losses.

"Regrettably, having exhausted all options, the Visteon UK board of directors had no alternative but to file for administration."

Mr Stebbins added: "Addressing the unfavourable financial performance of our UK manufacturing operations is an important step in positioning the company for future success.

The division has struggled since Visteon was separated from car giant Ford in 2000, and it is reported it made losses totalling £669 million in the years after the split.

See: 600 Jobs At Risk As Car Parts Maker Goes Bust

(BMcC/JM)

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