SDLP North Antrim Representative Connor Duncan has said that the closure of the Michelin factory in Ballymena is a serious blow to the North’s economy and will leave hundreds of workers facing uncertainty in the mouth of Christmas.
“Michelin is a major employer in Ballymena and one of the most important employers in the North. The people of this area have served the company well since they set up shop in 1969 but over the last number of years we’ve began to see a steady shut down at the plant.
“There had been some speculation, locally, for a while that we may see an announcement of further consolidation at the site but no one expected such a drastic move right in the throat of Christmas. This is awful news for a town that has already suffered significant setbacks following the jobs loss at JTI.
“We need to see urgent government action in a number of areas to deal with this announcement. First and foremost DETI and Invest NI need to move to secure employment for the Michelin workers. That should be supplemented by a skills assessment and training programme where necessary in conjunction with the
Department for Employment and Learning to ensure that the workers are equipped to transition into new fields. But most importantly we need to see a strategy for reindustrialisation throughout North Antrim that builds on our unique skills base and historic connection with industry.
East Antrim representative Councillor Margaret Anne McKillop added: “This is devastating news for communities throughout Antrim. Many people living in Ballycastle and the Glens work at the Michelin site and will now be facing huge uncertainty. It’s absolutely imperative that we see an urgent action plan developed to support those who face job losses and a long term strategy for rebuilding the local economy.