NORTH Antrim MP Ian Paisley jnr has held crisis talks with Stormont Executive minsters over the 900 job losses at JTI Gallaher’s cigarette factory.
Mr Paisley was accompanied to the meeting at Stormont Castle by Unite union representative Rodney Stewart.
Said the DUP MP: “I’m glad we had the opportunity to address this issue with the Executive and bring it right to the heart of government, and let them see for themselves the gap that’s been created.”
Mr Stewart said the crisis has developed out of an EU directive banning small tobacco packets, which he felt some politicians had not taken seriously enough in the past.
Said Mr Stewart: “We have been let down from Europe, right through the whole directive, through to the British government.
“But I was heartened by what I heard today. It gave me an opportunity to say on behalf of the workforce what they are feeling to the Executive.”
Staff at Gallaher’s, which was bought by Japanese firm JTI in 2007, were told about the closure on Tuesday.
As a result of the shock, the management have allowed staff time off work to come to terms with the announcement.
JTI Gallaher said the reason for closing the factory was because of “challenging economic environment, tougher tobacco advertising and increases in tax”.
Staff have been told that the factory’s closure will be phased out between 2016 and 2018.