Enterprise Minister Jonathan Bell and Employment and Learning Minister Dr Stephen Farry have expressed their deep regret at today’s announcement by Michelin that it plans to close its Ballymena factory by 2018.
Enterprise Minister Jonathan Bell said: “Today’s announcement is devastating news for the affected workers, their families and the local community as a whole. My thoughts are with them as they struggle to come to terms with the prospect of having to seek employment elsewhere; and with the external contractors who will also be affected by today’s announcement.
“The loss of 860 jobs is a huge blow for Ballymena and north Antrim and is bad news for the Northern Ireland economy as a whole. This decision is hugely regrettable and I know the company will not have taken it lightly.
“I want to assure the affected staff that, together with Invest Northern Ireland, the Department for Employment and Learning, and colleagues in the entire Northern Ireland Executive, we will do all that is possible to limit the impact of this announcement. I have asked for an urgent meeting with the company and will also be meeting with Executive colleagues later today to discuss the way forward.
“Invest NI has offered Michelin support over the years, including, most recently, a grant to help with the installation of an in-house plant to generate a percentage of their electricity requirements. Invest NI will continue to work with the company and all other partners in order to help staff to consider all alternative employment options.”
Employment and Learning Minister Dr Stephen Farry added: "My Department will engage and work proactively with management to offer redundancy clinics to the company and their employees. The Redundancy Advice Service works in partnership with a range of agencies including the Further Education Colleges and HMRC to provide advice on alternative job opportunities and access to training courses and a range of other issues such as benefits and taxation.
"The Redundancy Advice Service can work with management to help co-ordinate and deliver a tailored package of support and provide information and professional advice about the options and support available to them including employment, training, re-skilling, education opportunities and careers advice. I commend the pledge by Michelin to support employees throughout this process.”
Employees may also contact the Department for Employment and Learning directly to take up the support available by contacting their local Jobs and Benefits Office or JobCentre – details available on http://www.nidirect.gov.uk/social-security-jobs-and-benefits-offices.htm or by calling 0300 200 7822.