Only a few days remain until the Rally for a Future is held in Ballymena and support continues to come in from local organisations.
Unite Regional Secretary, Jimmy Kelly, welcomed the news that Ballymena Chamber of Commerce and Industry has thrown its weight behind the rally, which is being held on Saturday from noon at the Bandstand.
He said that this demonstrated the unanimity of local economic interests in seeking action by the Northern Ireland Executive.
“This statement demonstrates that both unions and business in Ballymena stand as one in the demand for action by our political leaders to secure investment and jobs,” Mr Kelly said.
“The loss of two and a half thousand jobs, will cast a long shadow over every trader and business in the town. Inaction and business-as-usual from our Ministers will not meet this challenge. Ballymena can offer any potential investor an experienced, skilled and loyal workforce, fantastic facilities and infrastructural provision. All we need is the ambition on the part of our political leaders to win investment and jobs, and a brighter future for all.”
The Chamber statement backed all three priorities raised by Rally For A Future: investment for jobs, protection of public services and employment, and support for apprentices and young students.
It stated: “Ballymena Borough Chamber of Commerce and Industry fully supports Unite the union’s initiative Rally for a Future.
“The decision by both JTI and Michelin to close their sites leaves Ballymena’s economy facing an unprecedented challenge. The loss of so many jobs in a town like Ballymena is potentially devastating and threatens employment in many suppliers, distributional businesses and the wider retail sector.
“Invest NI must underpin the current manufacturing base and proactively seek foreign-direct investment in the sector for Ballymena.
“We support the demand to protect public services and employment in Ballymena. To avoid the worst impact on our economy we need to safeguard every job we can. Those in power should recognise that maintaining quality public services and infrastructure are vital if we are to attract investment and jobs in the future.
“We back the demand for investment in our youth through both support for apprenticeships and higher and further education – our youth is our future and the greatest asset we can offer investors.”