Car-parts maker Ryobi puts 560 workers in Carrickfergus on temporary redundancy
ALUMINIUM castings manufacturer Ryobi is to temporarily close its Carrickfergus operation and put all 560 of its staff on furlough until at least April 3.
A senior source at its Northern Ireland headquarters told the Irish News that workers were told of the plan at 3pm yesterday.
The company, founded in Japan more than 70 years ago and which is a world leader in aluminium die casting, was unavailable for official comment at the time of going to press.
It make it the biggest manufacturer in the north hit by the coronavirus pandemic, and comes as the entire European automobile industry has effectively shut until mid-April.
The Unite union, which represents many of the Ryobi workers, confirmed it had spoken to management.
It said it was looking at details of the terms and conditions being offered to the workers under the furlough arrangements, adding that it would issue a statement in due course.
Ryobi supplies a range of aluminium engine, transmission and structural car components for car manufacturers throughout Europe, with a customer list reading like a who's who of the motor world, including Jaguar Land Rover, Volkswagen, Peugeot Citroen and Ford.
With an annual wage bill of £18 million, it is a huge asset to the wider Northern Ireland economy, and since 2012 it has invested more than £50m in its plant in Carrickfergus, from where it has operated since 1990.
Yesterday, motor dealerships Agnew Group and Charles Hurst owners Lookers said they were temporarily closing all of their trading locations with immediate effect as part of the national effort to reduce further spread of coronavirus.