Northern Ireland

Manufacturing: New push for NI executive action

Union claims 6,000 manufacturing posts lost in two years Image copyright kzenon/thinkstock
Image caption Manufacturing has been hit by recent job cuts

An online petition is being launched as part of a new bid to get the Northern Ireland Executive to adopt a manufacturing strategy.

Trade union Unite and lobby group Manufacturing NI are behind the campaign, which they say follows 6,000 job losses in the past two years.

It comes months after the DUP and Sinn Féin voted in the assembly to reject an Opposition call for a strategy.

About 85,000 are employed in manufacturing in Northern Ireland.

But the organisations say "an opportunity exists to do more" and argue Brexit has "huge ramifications" for companies regarding market access.

Energy costs need action

Stephen Kelly of Manufacturing NI said: "We need a strategy to ensure high-value added manufacturing stays on the agenda and that there is real action to lower energy and transport costs."

The regional secretary of Unite, Jimmy Kelly, added: "We need a different approach to procurement to ensure it works for local suppliers and efforts to grow supply-chain networks."

In June, the Economy Minister Simon Hamilton said he was unconvinced there was a need for a "stand-alone" strategy.

He said the executive already had a wider economic plan and stated manufacturing is not in the doldrums, despite cuts by the likes of Bombardier, Caterpillar and JTI.

In a new statement, Mr Hamilton said: "The executive is in the process of developing a new economic strategy which will be launched for consultation shortly.

"It has ambitious policies, initiatives and targets on innovation, growth, exports and skills that all assist manufacturing."

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