Apocalyptic News for Manufacturing in Ballymena

November 3, 2015

The sad news today that Michelin will close its doors in North Antrim in 2018 is apocalyptic in terms of employment for my constituency.
860 workers, in the jaws of Christmas, have received the news that they are now effectively on notice and my heart goes out to them at this time.
It cannot be overstated how big a blow this is to the manufacturing industry in Northern Ireland.
For North Antrim this means the loss of millions of pounds of wages annually and is frankly hard to come to terms with.
I understand that the announcement is part of a wider EU re-structuring by the company and anyone who has followed tyre manufacturing trends, as I have, will have noticed the impact that cheap Far Eastern imports have had on Goodyear and how over-capacity has resulted in re-structuring elsewhere.
The North Antrim factory has put up a valiant fight, but today they have bowed their head.
I have for several years campaigned for reduced energy costs to assist this company and I know that much work was done to assist them from central government.
But the re-structuring has not saved the North Antrim plant and frankly the UK operation, whilst they have cut off an arm today, I believe their ultimate survival is not certain. I have spoken with Michelin at some length and I have asked that those who are in position to be re-located to other plants, that this is offered.
That a most generous package will be put in place for them and that importantly I have secured from the Michelin Development Community Fund (MDCF), £5 million to assist the local community with new employment start-ups. This will go some way in creating fresh opportunities.
I have today tabled an urgent question in parliament and intend on raising this matter tomorrow (Wednesday).
This sees another massive blow to the manufacturing industry in North Antrim and my heart goes out to all those affected.

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