Manufacturing NI and Unite the union jointly launch campaign for Northern Ireland Industrial Strategy

Press EyeNorthern Ireland Executive must adopt Strategic approach to grow Manufacturing base

Real action needed to deliver ambitious target of growing sector to 20% of the Northern Ireland economy

October 20th: Unite Regional Secretary, Jimmy Kelly, and the Chief Executive of Manufacturing NI, Stephen Kelly, formally launched their campaign calling on the Northern Ireland Executive to adopt an Industrial Strategy for the region at the union’s Antrim Road offices.

Making the case for an industrial strategy, Mr Stephen Kelly of Manufacturing NI said:

“Northern Ireland’s manufacturing sector employs more than 85,000 and contributes more than £18 billion in sales – of which £14 billion are external. An opportunity exists to do more, so it is vitally important that our politicians adopt an ambitious approach to create the conditions which will allow Manufacturing to grow to 20% of the Northern Ireland economy creating jobs, increasing investment and quickly assisting the Executive to deliver a rebalanced economy which benefits the entire region.

“We need an industrial strategy to ensure that high-value added Manufacturing stays on the agenda – that there is real action to lower energy and transport costs, to win foreign direct investment in the sector and to put the resources in to ensure the labour force has the skills needed for future success. There is even more need for such a strategy given the huge ramifications of Brexit for market access and labour mobility”, he concluded.

Unite Regional Secretary, Jimmy Kelly, pointed to the impact of recent high-profile job-losses and closures in the sector:

“Northern Ireland has lost six thousand jobs in manufacturing over the past two years – these were among the best paid jobs in the region and will not be easily replaced by jobs of an equivalent value.

“While we recognise that the Executive is working to support the success of some leading manufacturers – this needs to be more consistent and applied across the entire sector. We need a different approach to procurement to ensure it works for local suppliers and efforts to grow supply-chains networks across the whole of Northern Ireland as well as enhanced allowances to encourage a step-change in capital investment.

“Representatives of workers and employers are coming together to demand the Executive takes a more comprehensive approach to growing the sector. We are launching a postcard campaign and an online petition calling on the Economy and Finance Ministers to introduce an industrial strategy. We need continued focus and action to defend and grow our vital manufacturing base”, Mr Kelly concluded.

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