Bushmills Distillery will seek up to five voluntary redundancies within the next fortnight. The move comes as distillery tours are not operational due to current COVID restrictions.
In a statement to Causeway Coast Community, a spokesperson said “Old Bushmills Distillery can confirm it is entering into consultation with employees of the distillery’s visitor centre, which is currently closed, about a proposal to seek voluntary redundancies among the 14 staff employed there.
“We cannot be definitive about the number of potential redundancies until the consultation is completed, but it could be in the order of up to five staff.
“While sales of Bushmills Irish whiskey in global markets are performing strongly, the company is not immune from the effects of the global pandemic and we are taking this step with a heavy heart.
“The visitor experience at Old Bushmills Distillery involves members of the public visiting production areas and meeting our production staff. Regrettably, under current COVID-19 guidelines, we cannot foresee when we might be able to resume our distillery tours.
“The company hopes to secure the reduction through voluntary redundancy. Remaining visitor centre employees will be re-deployed elsewhere in the company.
“We hope to complete the consultation with affected employees by Nov 12.
Causeway Coast Community understands that the same department employs 20 agency staff. Their position remains unclear at the time of print this evening.
Commenting on the news Alderman Norman Hillis said “It is really sad to learn of potential job losses amongst the distillery’s visitor centre staff especially as we are now a very few weeks from Christmas.
“The prospect of losing your job is devastating at any time but at this time of year, it is even worse. I am aware there are a number of agency staff employed at the visitor centre as well as the 14 permanent staff who may also be affected and it is unknown what the situation is with them.
The Distillery has been a great employer in our area for many years and it is good to know that sales of Old Bushmills Whiskey are still strong on the global market. These potential redundancies which I really hope will be kept to the absolute minimum are due to the visitor centre being closed and no tours of the distillery being held due to current COVID-19 guidelines.
My thoughts are with the staff affected due to this terrible pandemic.”