Northern Ireland

Caterpillar workers set for major jobs announcement

Caterpillar factory Image copyright Press Eye
Image caption Caterpillar is one of Northern Ireland's biggest employers with staff based at three sites in Larne, Newtownabbey and west Belfast

Workers in Northern Ireland factories operated by US firm Caterpillar are braced for a significant announcement regarding jobs.

It is understood night-shifts have been cancelled, with staff told to expect official news on Thursday.

Caterpillar - the world's largest manufacturer of heavy equipment - has local operations in Larne, Newtownabbey and west Belfast.

Since 2011 Caterpillar has shed more than 1,000 posts in Northern Ireland.

It has already axed thousands of jobs worldwide since last year and has suffered heavy losses in mining equipment sales amid a global industry slump.

Caterpillar refused to comment on any jobs announcement.

But a spokesman added: "Caterpillar is committed to communicating regularly and directly with our employees about the business environment and any resulting changes".

Image copyright Press Eye
Image caption It is the world's largest manufacturer of heavy equipment

Sinn Féin MP for West Belfast Paul Maskey said: "Uncertainty over the future of Caterpillar's operations in the north will be no doubt distressing for workers and their families."

"It is vitally important that management keep all employees up to date with the latest information as soon as possible," he added.

The American company bought FG Wilson in 1999.

There have been significant manufacturing job losses in Northern Ireland over the past year, including Michelin, JTI Gallahers and Bombardier.

Image copyright Press Eye
Image caption The Caterpillar operation at Monkstown in Newtownabbey

More on this story