Saturday, July 13, 2024

Workers to protest against planned axing of 300 jobs in Co Armagh

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Workers at the GlenDimplex factory in Portadown are to hold a protest outside St Mark’s Church in the town centre on Friday after the company announced its intention to close the site in the next two years.

GlenDimplex, which is an Irish electrical goods firm, did not respond when asked about the planned rally. Unite the Union, which represents the staff at the Portadown factory, said it is calling on all the candidates for Upper Bann in the upcoming General Election to attend and address the rally.

Staff from the GlenDimplex facility in Newry also plan to attend the rally.

GlenDimplex plans to move the manufacturing that currently takes place at the Portadown site to Lithuania, and said the site closures were the result of a transition to focus on “low carbon electric heating and ventilation solutions for homes and businesses”. Founded by Irish businessman Martin Naughton, Glen Dimplex announced in February that it would make 300 redundancies Ireland-wide between late 2024 and 2026.

They said they were cutting site numbers from five sites to three, with the Portadown operation closing down, though they also said they were investing heavily in other sites, including its Newry facility.

In a statement at the time of the announcement, GlenDimplex said it would invest around €25m into its Newry site, turning it into a centre for the manufacture of zero carbon, renewable heating solutions, including heat pumps.

But it added: “Panel and storage heating manufacturing will transfer from the group’s sites in Newry and Portadown to its existing manufacturing site in Lithuania. “Under this proposal, the Portadown site will close, most likely in 2025, with some staff redeploying to Newry whose operations will also evolve significantly.”

A spokesperson added: “Subject to the outcome of a staff consultation process, up to 300 net redundancies are expected between late 2024 and 2026.”

Union sources say that staff at the Portadown facility were shocked by the announcement of the job losses, only finding out about them from press reports.

The Belfast Telegraph understands there is still no precise date provided for the job losses, although staff have been told they are unlikely to occur before December 31, 2025. The union also feels the firm has not been as forthcoming with information as they would have liked during the negotiation process following the job loss announcement.

Unite regional officer Neil Moore said: “The Upper Bann area faces another unacceptable jobs threat with the prospect of GlenDimplex shuttering its site in Portadown and offshoring production to Lithuania. We simply cannot afford to lose good quality union jobs. Workers want to know how it can be so easy for businesses to simply offshore production — destroying livelihoods — all in the interest of making even bigger profits?

“Unite is organising this rally to hear what answers the politicians can offer. Do they back political intervention to save jobs? Will they end the offshoring race-to-the-bottom? What will they do to secure good union jobs in Upper Bann?

“We need immediate action to secure this area’s long and proud tradition of manufacturing.”

GlenDimplex was ranked 14th in the Belfast Telegraph’s top 100 businesses in Northern Ireland list for 2024, with an annual a turnover of £761.1m and a pre-tax profit of £27.1m.

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