Union shock at JTI announcement of devastating job losses at Ballymena plant

unite white out of redRegional Secretary calls for action at highest levels of government to safeguard employment at Ballymena plant

Announcement comes despite corporation’s strong profitability

October 8th: Responding to the announcement that 800 jobs could be lost at JTI Gallaher’s base in Ballymena over the next two years, Jimmy Kelly, Regional Secretary for Unite expressed his alarm over the impact of the potential job losses involved and called for immediate action from Stormont politicians to reverse the decision.

“The scale of job-losses which have been announced by Japan Tobacco International (JTI)will devastate the local Ballymena economy and will adversely impact employment across Northern Ireland.

“Unite is very disappointed at the proposal by JTI to close the plant completely. The JTI Lisnafillan plant in Ballymena remains highly profitable as does JTI globally. In the six months to the end of June 2014, its net operating profit in constant terms was $2.3 billion: an increase of 11.7% over the same period a year previously. These profits have been built on the hard work and commitment of JTI-Lisnafillan workers and staff.

”While we recognise that there have been a number of factors like excise tax pressure and the revised EU Tobacco Products Directive which could potentially weaken demand, the move to relocate all production to Poland reflects the priorities of JTI to maximise their corporate profits.

“The fact that the job losses will not begin until May 2016 gives local political leaders an opportunity to intervene and pull together a rescue package to safeguard this vital employment.

“To this end, Unite is seeking a meeting with the First Minister to pursue opportunities to save production at Ballymena. Our political leaders cannot sit back and allow these jobs to be ‘off-shored’ to Poland”, Mr Kelly concluded.

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