125 jobs to go at Co Antrim tyre pressure firm

125 posts are to go at tyre pressure monitor maker Sensata Technologies' Carrickfergus production site
Gareth McKeown

CO Antrim has suffered another crippling jobs blow, with news that 125 posts are to go at tyre pressure monitor maker Sensata Technologies' Carrickfergus production site.

Following on from high-profile job losses at Ballymena company Wrightbus, Williams Industrial Services (145 people), oil firm Schlumberger and Kilroot Power Station announced already this year it is another unwelcome announcement in the locality. It also comes just days after news emerged that up to 200 jobs are at risk at Lagan Construction Group, with four companies within the business plunging into administration.

Sensata Technologies, which owns Schrader Electronics in Antrim and Carrickfergus, informed employees yesterday morning of its intention to lay off 125 of its 1300-strong local workforce. The proposed redundancies, however will only impact staff at the Carrickfergus site.

Sensata UK general manager, Graeme Thompson said the decision to reduce the workforce comes following a review of operations and in response to a drop in demand for some of the products currently manufactured in the north.

"The company regrets to announce that we will potentially be reducing the workforce at our site in Carrickfergus by 125 people," he said.

“This has been a very difficult decision and all possible alternatives were explored before it was taken. Our focus now is on providing support to the affected employees and their families."

The business will now engage in a collective consultation period with employees, during which proposed alternatives to compulsory redundancy will be considered.

In spite of the jobs blow Mr Thompson has reiterated the company's commitment to maintaining its manufacturing base in Northern Ireland.

“Expected production levels for other lines remain steady at this time and Sensata Technologies remains committed to our Northern Ireland operation," he added.

Trade union Unite said the job losses are another "cruel" blow to the manufacturing sector in the north.

"Sensata Technologies, formerly Schrader International, was one of the employers in the area which had demonstrated significant growth in recent years against a trend of significant job losses and closures, so this is particularly bad news for the local economy," regional officer, Joanne McWilliams said.

The union representative offered some hope that the job losses may be reversed in the future if sales improve, but questioned the company's marketing and sales effort. She believes the lack of a Stormont Executive is partly to blame for the redundancies.

“These job-losses once again call into question the absence of a manufacturing strategy for Northern Ireland, the laggard nature of government support and intervention in the economy and the absence of a functioning locally-accountable Executive to respond adequately to what amounts to a jobs crisis in the manufacturing sector, in particular that in the Antrim area."

East Antrim DUP MP Sammy Wilson described the job losses at the Sensata plant in Carrickfergus as another "serious blow" to the town, marking a bleak start to the year.

"I have urged the company to do all it can to avoid job losses at such a difficult time for the area and to seek to ensure that any redundancies that cannot be avoided are voluntary and not compulsory. I have been assured by Sensata that details of an enhanced redundancy package will be made available to affected staff in the coming days."

Local Alliance MLA Stewart Dickson said the news will cause distress locally.

“This has been a tough few weeks for the wider east and south Antrim area, with disappointing news relating to job losses at Kilroot Power Station, Williams Industrial Services and Schlumberger. While Sensata's commitment to maintaining its manufacturing base in Northern Ireland is welcome, we need to see a functioning Executive so plans can be put in place to address these job losses as a matter of urgency.”

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