Business

'Give us the tools and we'll do the job' say manufacturers

Manufacturing in Northern Ireland needs a greater focus, industry leaders claim

MANUFACTURERS in the north have joined with the Unite union in urging the Stormont Executive to adopt an "industrial strategy" to stymie jobs losses in the sector.

Members of both bodies have launched a postcard campaign and online petition challenging Economy Minister Simon Hamilton and Finance Minister Máirtín Ó Muilleoir to be "more consistent" and to consider a different approach to procurement and growing supply-chains networks in the wake of 6,000 manufacturing jobs being shed in the last two years.

Manufacturing NI chief executive Stephen Kelly and Unite regional secretary Jimmy Kelly are also calling for enhanced allowances to encourage a step-change in capital investment.

Stephen Kelly said: “Our 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 per cent 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."

And he added: "There is even more need for such a strategy given the huge ramifications of Brexit for market access and labour mobility.”

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