Wrightbus chief executive asked to explain job losses

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The Chairman and Chief Executive of Wrightbus, Mr Mark Nodder, met a delegation from the SDLP in Stormont last week to explain the reasons for anticipated redundancies.

East Londonderry Assembly Member John Dallat who was present welcomed the opportunity to hear at first hand the reasons for the proposed redundancies.

“We regret the downturn in sales and hope that any reduction in the workforce can be met by voluntary redundancies and retraining,” he said.

“We also raised concern about the knock-on impact this will have on other companies making components for Wrightbus worth £190 million and representing between 400 and 500 jobs.

“Our meeting with Mr Nodder was very positive and hope that other political parties will also engage with the company at this difficult time when there is so much political uncertainty.

“We particularly welcome the ongoing business Wrightbus gets from the Republic of Ireland which accounts for more than 10% of their total business.

“We also welcomed ongoing progress in delivering affirmative employment programmes which is addressing under-representation in the workforce.

“The present downturn in the order book is caused by a number of factors including a downturn in demand for public transport, operators postponing the replacement of their fleets and a number of other factors.

“However, we were glad to learn that in terms of research and development Wrightbus is well placed to compete favourably when tendering for new contracts in the future.

“We received assurances that the company’s apprenticeship programmes will continue and employees will continue to develop skills which, in the future, are transferrable to other industries they may wish to pursue.

“We accepted an invitation to visit the factory in the future and will continue to support the company in the interest of creating employment in an area where unemployment is reaching high levels as a direct result of the closure of large factories in recent times.”

North Antrim MP Ian Paisley said: “I am very disappointed by the news that 95 jobs are to be cut from the Wright Bus workforce. Obviously this will come as a blow to the local manufacturing sector.

“I have been in discussions with the CEO of the company and I understand the reasons behind this decision.

“Looking forward, the company has considerably good prospects but order books must match the workforce. It is essential that in the future, Government bus contracts start to favour local manufacturers so as to avoid such peaks and troughs in the production cycle.

“As usual, the workforce has demonstrated a resilience and a stoicism that one would expect despite this devastating announcement.

“My thoughts are with those 95 workers who will be losing their jobs and who will feel this news most acutely.”