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Last Updated: Friday, 16 December 2005, 09:27 GMT
Firm holds talks over job losses
About 70 textiles jobs are likely to be lost
About 70 textiles jobs are likely to be lost
Textiles company Ulster Weavers has said it is in talks with union leaders over proposals to cut jobs.

The firm said it plans to close its Dungannon factory which would lead to the loss of 60 jobs and cut a further 10 to 12 jobs across its business.

It is holding a 30-day consultation process, but said it was unlikely to be able to keep the Dungannon plant open.

Managing director Declan Gormley said rising costs in the province make it difficult to remain competitive.

"It's the age-old story in textiles at the moment - the pressure from the Far East," Mr Gormley said.

"Falling prices right across the board and of course rising costs in Northern Ireland make it very difficult to continue to run a manufacturing base in Northern Ireland.

"Certainly we'll be doing everything in the consultation to look at options that could prevent that or certainly mitigate against it," he added.

Victor Kerr has worked at the company for 32 years
Victor Kerr has worked at the company for 32 years

"It's difficult in face of what's going on to see that we would come up with an alternative proposal, but we're certainly open to any suggestions that might help to do that."

Staff have said they are angry the redundancies are coming at Christmas, and when the company is involved in research and development in China.

In February this year, the company announced it was closing two of its four production plants in the province, with the loss of almost 80 jobs.

The Armagh factory closed with the loss of 38 jobs, and the plant at Castlewellan in County Down was also shut down, with the loss of 39 jobs.

'Very aggrieved'

Further jobs were lost at the company's head office near Banbridge in County Down.

At the time the firm blamed strong competition from low-cost manufacturers and increasing costs in Northern Ireland.

One worker, Victor Kerr, said he had been employed with the firm for 32 years and was angry at what had happened.

"We feel very aggrieved the way that this has happened in the mouth of Christmas," he said.

"The timing is very, very poor. The company said it is because of extreme losses - they have quoted figures of 2m, 3m, 4m of losses.

A lot of these people have mortgages and we are coming up to Christmas
Vincent Currie
SDLP councillor

"If that is the case, they are entitled to close the company, close the business and relocate.

"We understand that, but at the same time... they must have known for some time that it was going to happen."

Dungannon Mayor Francie Molloy said it was unfortunate the news had come so close to Christmas and "with little or no build-up to it".

'Great concern'

The Sinn Fein assembly member said Dungannon District Council would be pursuing the issue and would do all it could to help.

"I know management have to run a business, but in the mouth of Christmas, this type of decision is very unfortunate."

SDLP councillor Vincent Currie said staff at the plant were angry.

"A lot of these people have mortgages and we are coming up to Christmas," he told BBC News on Friday.

"To be told - when you are 52, 53, 54 years of age - that your job is gone, then naturally it is a cause of great concern for them.

"It is a cause of great worry for them and I would be asking Invest Northern Ireland to get in there and try and resolve this matter."


SEE ALSO:
Shanghai surprise for NI investors
14 Dec 05 |  Northern Ireland
Job losses at NI textiles company
11 Feb 05 |  Northern Ireland
Jobs go at two textile factories
11 Nov 05 |  Northern Ireland


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