Northern Ireland

Caterpillar workers wait 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 will be given details of job cuts later.

Caterpillar is the world's largest manufacturer of heavy construction equipment.

The firm has operations in Larne, Newtownabbey and west Belfast.

Caterpillar's Northern Ireland business employs 1,800 people and mainly makes diesel generators.

The firm has been hit by a global downturn in mining and oil exploration which has reduced demand for its products.

It is understood that the company may announce cuts across its global operations beyond Northern Ireland.

It has already axed thousands of jobs worldwide since last year as part of a major restructuring programme.

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

Since 2011 it has shed more than 1,000 posts in Northern Ireland and moved some work to factories in China.

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

Caterpillar refused to comment on any jobs announcement yesterday.

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 The Caterpillar operation at Monkstown in Newtownabbey

Sinn Féin MP for West Belfast Paul Maskey said yesterday: "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.

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