Time for an industrial strategy that will safeguard jobs and skills in Northern Ireland

unite-white-out-of-redIf Northern Ireland parties won’t act – UK government must intervene and bring forward effective industrial strategy

Government must adopt interventionist approach to safeguard Northern Ireland jobs and skills

Following the announcement of more than five hundred job losses in two of Northern Ireland’s highest value-added manufacturing companies, Davy Thompson, Unite Regional Coordinating Officer, called on the UK government to intervene and bring forward an effective industrial strategy for Northern Ireland.

“Today’s announcements demonstrate that the ‘business-as-usual’ approach to Northern Ireland’s manufacturing sector has failed miserably. More than 500 jobs have been lost today but over the past six years we have lost more than six thousand jobs in our higher value-added industries.

“Northern Ireland’s productivity now lags at the very bottom of the league across all UK regions and yet we have the skills and capacity to compete at the highest levels globally in manufacturing.

“Again and again, we have seen jobs being outsourced and lost as companies whose success was built by Northern Ireland workers are allowed to be taken over by large corporations who then outsource jobs abroad to lower costs and maximise profits for global shareholders.

“We cannot afford to see this trend continuing as we risk the same de-industrialisation as has scarred entire regions of the UK. Indeed the legacy of conflict in Northern Ireland means that there is a particular need for a robust economic base here to sustain ongoing social and political progress and reconciliation. Not acting is not an option.

“Today’s announcement that the Schlumberger plant at Newtownabbey will close is a case-in-point. The skills held by that workforce, like so many others, would be of huge importance in equipping the UK’s already strong and growing energy sector. There is a need for government to intervene to safeguard those skills and, if necessary, redeploy the workers to productive activity in the national interest.

“In the absence of a functioning Northern Ireland Executive and given the failure of local parties to bring forward and deliver an industrial strategy, we now need to see action from the UK government. An activist industrial strategy is needed – the UK government needs to intervene to sustain jobs and skills in Northern Ireland”, Mr Thompson concluded.

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