Workers in Ballymena appear set to face yet another devastating job loss announcement
Wrightbus bosses need to clarify whether phased redundancies are designed to avoid triggering ninety-day consultation
June 5th: In the second such announcement in the last four months, employees at Wrightbus were this afternoon [Tuesday June 5] informed by management that there would be a further ninety-five job losses. Responding on behalf of Unite the union, which represents the large majority of the approximately six hundred strong workforce, Regional Officer George Brash said:
“Our reps in the workforce have indicated that Wright group management have told them that they will be making another ninety-five workers redundant. This is dreadful news for Wright group workers and the beleaguered Ballymena economy coming on the heels of the final shutdown of both JTI-Gallaher and Michelin factories in the town. Indeed it was only February 12th that an earlier ninety-five job-losses were announced due to a reported downturn in orders.
“Unite are deeply sceptical of the timing of what appears another major job loss announcement by the Wright group. Although have yet to hear formally from management to confirm numbers but at this stage we understand from our reps that they have been told that the jobs are set to go in En-drive, the Wrightbus group and in Customcare.
“Given it is less than four months since the last redundancy – which just happened to be below one hundred job losses – we have to question whether Wright group bosses are purposefully staggering job losses so that they don’t exceed the threshold triggering a full ninety-day consultation period and the opportunity for our union to bring forward alternatives.
“The last job loss announcement was blamed by management on the loss of sales to Transport for London and the protracted delay in new orders from Translink. Unite has previously challenged the inexcusable betrayal of Northern Ireland workers by those in government in London who transferred the TfL contracts to China and Egypt.
“In February we questioned whether the failure to progress new environmentally-friendly hybrid buses under a five-year contract to supply Translink was due, as reported, to be a result of the absence of a Ministerial sign-off. We have yet to receive any clarification on that. If it is indeed true, then the workers of the Wright group are paying the price for the continued impasse and the failure of our politicians.
“Unite will continue our efforts to break the logjam on orders and defend Northern Ireland jobs, and call on our politicians and the economic development agency, Invest NI to do likewise. These job-losses are only the latest confirmation of the need for an ambitious Manufacturing strategy for Northern Ireland, to include an Economic Taskforce with trade union representation, to tackle the impact of these job losses and those over previous years. We will be in constant contact with the workforce throughout the process and will endeavour to secure jobs and the best possible outcome for all our members”, Mr Brash said.