CONSULTATIONS are ongoing between management and staff at a Mid Ulster engineering firm which announced last week that it is cutting jobs at its sites in Northern Ireland and England.
SDC, which produces lorry trailers, is to cut its 800-strong workforce across plants in Toomebridge, Magherafelt, Antrim and Mansfield. The number of jobs at risk will not be known until consultations are completed.
The company, which says it is the UK and Ireland’s largest semi-trailer manufacturer, employs 650 people in Northern Ireland and a further 150 in England.
It was sold to Chinese group CIMC Vehicles in 2016.
In a statement, SDC Trailers said uncertainty around Brexit has hit sales.
"In recent months, it is clear that the uncertainty of Brexit and other economic concerns have resulted in a slowing down of capital purchases from retailers, logistics firms and others.
"We have had to respond to this slowdown in demand by entering into a period of consultation with our employees with the unfortunate likely outcome being a number of employees being made redundant.
"We are unable to confirm numbers at this stage as the consultation process is still ongoing with our workforce."
The news, announced last Monday, has been met by shock from the community and public representatives.
Mid Ulster MLA Patsy McGlone called the job losses "devastating".
"This is yet another example, if it was ever needed, of the damage that Brexit and ongoing uncertainty will do to our local economy," the SDLP man said.
“I have spoken with company management today and I will continue to engage with them over the coming weeks, and with the workers affected by the announcement.
"I will be engaging with trade union colleagues during the consultation process to ensure that the staff are supported.
"This is a significant blow for Toomebridge and we have to do all we can to ensure further opportunities are made available for the staff in the immediate future.”
Sinn Fein Westminster candidate for Mid Ulster, Francie Molloy, also expressed concern.
“I would urge the owners to be flexible in their approach at this stage," he said last week.
"Although they are indicating that Brexit is the key cause for concern due to the general lack of future investment across the industry this forthcoming election could change the whole dynamic in the process.”
“The important thing is that full and open discussions take place with staff and that all options are considered.”
He added: “My fear is that the whole uncertainty over Brexit and the inability of the British government to make a decision one way or another will increase the uncertainty in industry leading to further delays on investment for the future.
"Industry needs clarity and industry in the north of Ireland needs access to European and global markets.”
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