Caterpillar job losses "devastating" for west Belfast

Work performed at the Caterpillar financial services centre in west Belfast is being transferred to Accenture, putting 100 jobs at risk
Gary McDonald Business Editor

UP to 100 call-centre jobs could go at one of west Belfast's biggest employers in what the area's MP claims will be a "devastating blow" for workers and the local area.

Work performed at Caterpillar financial services centre is set to be transferred to global services and outsourcing firm Accenture, which doesn't have a footprint in Northern Ireland.

In a statement the company said it informed employees on Thursday of its decision to move to a global process model and partner with Accenture for the delivery of select finance and accounting activities.

The company added: "This partnership will lead to a transition of work currently performed at multiple Caterpillar finance operation locations to multiple Accenture finance operation locations."

Staff were briefed by US and UK managers of Caterpillar - which is best known as a manufacturer but which has had a finance centre in Belfast since 2005 - and told that redundancy packages would be on offer.

Sinn Féin MP Paul Maskey said: "This is a very difficult time for the workers at Caterpillar and their families and this news will have come as a devastating blow for them but also for the economy of the wider area.

"I have been engaging with the workers to hear their concerns and I am seeking an urgent meeting with the company.

“Given the ongoing uncertainty over Brexit, this will only add to the pressure on the local economy and community.

"Management at the company now need to work with staff and to make sure employees are kept up to date with all developments and if the jobs cannot be saved, they should be offered retraining and up-skilling opportunities."

SDLP councillor Brian Heading, who has requested an urgent meeting with the company, said: “Caterpillar's west Belfast base has provided skilled jobs for local people here for a long time. This announcement will cause significant concern for local workers.

“We will be speaking with trade union representatives to support the staff in any way we can."

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