1,200 job losses have been confirmed at Wrightbus in Ballymena.
Michael Magnay and Peter Allen of Deloitte were today appointed as joint administrators to Wrights Group Limited, Wrightbus Limited, Wright En-Drive Limited, Wright Composites Limited and Metallix Limited.
A statement says there are around 1,250 employees with 1,200 redundancies made today.
There are hopes that if a buyer comes in around two thirds of the roles will be saved.
North Antrim DUP MP Ian Paisley said that he expected that under administration, all staff will be paid up until last week.
“All get statutory redundancy and if they want paid for this week they have to claim against company assets,” he said.
“My hope is that a buyer comes in quickly and rehires two-thirds of them.”
The Wright family issued a statement saying: “We are devastated at the news today that the company has been placed in administration by the bank.
“Global changes from diesel to electric in bus technology have caused a sharp decline in demand for buses in the UK.
“As a shortfall became apparent, one of the steps taken was to move work from our Malaysia facility back to Ballymena to secure jobs here.
“These factors have resulted in significant losses at Wrightbus which our family has been covering for over a year.
“This was undertaken to both protect the workforce and the engineering expertise in the company.
“It simply became impossible to sustain that level of support.
“We have worked hard to support the restructuring team based in Wrightbus, and we are confident that a buyer for the business can still be found.
“Since it was established in 1946 from a tin shed, Wrightbus has become a world leader in bus manufacture and technology, employing tens of thousands of people.
“The company has built a culture and tradition of expertise and innovation in the Ballymena area which is recognised across the globe.
“The production of the world-famous London Routemaster is just one example of the many achievements of the firm and we are hopeful that a new buyer will be found and that work at the factory can continue.”
A special meeting of Mid & East Antrim Borough Council is due to be held in Ballymena next Tuesday to discuss the developments.
Earlier, the Unite union’s regional secretary Jackie Pollock confirmed the administration at a press conference on Wednesday morning and has called on the government to intervene and save the firm.
#Wrightbus staff leave the factory after receiving the news they’d all been dreading. One tells me he is going home to tell his wife he doesn’t have a job to go to tomorrow. @BBCNewsNI pic.twitter.com/sRE2K0cvd9
— Richard Morgan (@BBCRichardM) September 25, 2019
Directors at the maker of the so-called ‘Boris bus’ had been in talks with companies including Chinese giant Weichai and entrepreneur Jo Bamford – whose family owns equipment giant JCB – about a sale.
But talks broke down last week, with the amount of rent to be paid on the company’s premises believed to be a stumbling block.
Mr Pollock believes Prime Minister Boris Johnson must now step in to save 1,400 jobs at Wrightbus, following assurances he gave just three months ago.
“This is a workforce at the cutting edge of technological advancements in the design and supply of green public transport, we cannot afford to lose any more jobs or skills in this area, this is now a crisis and with MLA’s abdicating their responsibilities and the ongoing stagnation at Stormont the Prime Minister now needs to step in,” he said.
“Ultimately if a solution based on a new buyer isn’t found immediately the Government must intervene to save jobs and skills, just three months ago Boris Johnson gave assurances that he ‘will do everything we can to ensure the future of that great UK company’, he has a chance today to do something decent,” the Belfast Telegraph reported.
Earlier, MP Ian Paisley described the news as a “body blow” for Ballymena and the wider Northern Ireland’s economy.
“Essentially from this point the administrator has a week to find a buyer,” Mr Paisley said.
Mr Paisley told Good Morning Ulster that the news was “a real tragedy” for the company’s 1,400 employees and “a further 1,700 people affected up and down the supply chain”.
North Antrim Ulster Unionist MLA Robin Swann tweeted: ‘A drastic blow yet again to Ballymena, with Wrightbus going into administration, all efforts must be made now to ensure that a buyer & future is found for a highly skilled workforce.’
In a statement to ‘Ballymena Daily’, TUV leader and local MLA Jim Allister said earlier: “The impending administration of Wrightbus is devastating news not just for the employees of Wrightbus but the wider North Antrim community and supply chain. My heart goes out to the hundreds with no wage packet this week or job hereafter.
“Michelin, JTI and now Wrightbus, the heart has been ripped out of Ballymena.
“The roller coaster ride of the last few weeks has added to the torment brought to the management and employees.
“For decades Wrightbus has been a constant and provider of thousands of jobs. Amidst the sadness of today I want to salute Sir William Wright for the vision and commitment which he brought in building up this company and providing good income for so many. He did not deserve this tragic outcome.
“However, Wrightbus has a great product. The combined efforts of us all must be to ensure that it does not become a fading memory but obtains a flourishing new beginning.”
North Antrim Sinn Féin MLA Philip McGuigan, in a statement to ‘Ballymena Daily’ said all possible support must be made available to ensure that those losing their jobs at Wrightbus are reskilled, retrained and assisted to secure future employment.
The North Antrim MLA commented: “News that Wrightbus is going into administration with large numbers of redundancies is a tragedy for the workforce and a hammer blow for the local economy.
“Wrightbus is a huge employer in its own right but also a massive part of the manufacturing supply chain so this will have a major knock-on effect on smaller sub contractors and local suppliers.
“Ballymena and North Antrim are still feeling from a number of major blows in the manufacturing industry over recent years, and the crisis at Wrightbus, plus the ongoing uncertainty over Brexit, will only add to the pressure that has been created in the local economy and community.
“Sinn Féin will be calling on the Department for the Economy to help find a buyer for Wrightbus and to ensure all possible support is made available to ensure that those losing their jobs at Wrightbus are reskilled, retrained and assisted to secure future employment.”
In a statement to ‘Ballymena Daily’, Ballymena TUV councillor Matthew Armstrong said: “This morning’s announcement that Wrightbus is to enter administration is a devastating blow for its workers, their famillies and the entire supply chain.
“We have all kept a keen eye on the news over the past few weeks and whilst we had all hoped that a resolution may be found, the stark reality is that if no buyer is found 1,400 skilled workers will be seeking employment in an already challenging climate.
“The Wright name has been synonymous with the Ballymena area for decades, and although the situation remains fluid, I will be seeking assurances from our council that all that is humanly possible is done to offer support and guidance to those who may now sadly find themselves out of work and give everyone involved the quickest and best opportunity at re-entering permanent employment.
“In that vain, this morning I have added my name to a request to the Chief Executive and Mayor that a special meeting of council be convened to get this process underway.
“To my many friends who were Wrightbus employees and to their colleagues, I stand ready to help in any way that I possibly can.
“We all continue to hope that a buyer may be found, and that the structures as were known remain intact as far as is practical, retaining as many jobs as possible in the process.”
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