Caterpillar cuts mean 700 jobs to go in County Antrim

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Caterpillar, the US manufacturing firm best known for its diggers and trucks, is to slash its workforce in Northern Ireland by almost half.

The company said 700 jobs at its electric generator production operations in Larne would go over the next 18 months under plans to bolster its competitiveness.

It insisted there was no Brexit or coronavirus-related motive for the decision and there was no threat to its other production facilities in Northern Ireland, at the Springvale business park in Belfast, though work there could be moved to Larne.

The decision would leave 900 in Caterpillar's employment in the country under, what it said was, a "strategic evaluation" to make more efficient use of its manufacturing footprint.

Joe Creed, vice president of the company's Electric Power Division, said: "We recognise that what we are considering is difficult for our employees, their families and the community.

"We do not take these contemplations lightly; however, we must plan for future business needs to be competitive."

Caterpillar said that in addition to redundancy packages for those affected, it would also consider additional support to help them find new jobs in the tough economy.