89 jobs set to go at US-owned engineering operation in Belfast
INDUSTRIAL valves engineer Crane Stockham Valve is to close its east Belfast plant by the end of next year with the loss of 89 jobs.
Its US-based parent, based in Cincinnati and which can trace its roots back to 1855, in a statement to staff, said: "We communicated our proposal today to close our Belfast facility in the second half of 2021 in order to give all affected parties lengthy notice, and especially to enable our associates to plan for the transition as best as possible.
"Crane Co. intends to continue to employ some of the associates following the closure in a smaller office and will look for other employment opportunities for affected associates at other sites as well."
They added: "Market forces have led to losses for the past five years, and despite significant investment in new technology, equipment and products, we have unfortunately come to this proposal.
"We are committed to treating the small group of affected associates fairly and with respect."
The company started manufacturing at the Alexander Road site in Castlereagh in 1955.
Previously known as Mission Manufacturing and TWR Mission, it became Stockham Valve in 1988, and a decade later became part of Crane Co, a diversified manufacturer of highly engineered industrial products.
Trading on the New York Stock Exchange, Crane has 12,000 employees in the US, Europe, the Middle East, Asia and Australia.
The redundancies come as latest labour market statistics show that record employment rates in 2019 have continued into the new year in Northern Ireland.
Some 72.6 per cent of people wake up to a job every day, according to fresh government statistics.
That's up 1.1 per cent on the previous quarter and 2.7 per cent up over the year.
But the north still has the second-lowest rate of employment in the UK, with only the north-east of England worse off at 71.4 per cent.
The north's jobless rate has dipped to a record low of just 2.3 per cent - down 0.6 per cent over the quarter and 1.2 per cent over the year.
That's lower than the rate in the UK (3.8 per cent), European Union (6.3 per cent) and the Republic of Ireland (4.8 per cent).
And while the inactivity level during the three months to November fell back to 25.7 per cent, it's still the highest rate in the UK's 12 regions.
The NI Statistics and Research Agency, which compiled the report, said: “The continued improvements in the labour market are consistent with the UK experience, where employment was the highest on record, unemployment was joint lowest on record and inactivity was the lowest on record.
“It is worth noting, while the Northern Ireland unemployment rate was the lowest of all the UK regions, it had the second lowest employment rate and highest inactivity rate.”
The number of confirmed redundancies (3,192) in the most recent 12 months was 28 per cent higher than in the previous year, (2,498), with 143 lay-offs coming in December.