Factory manager’s tribute to workforce

John Milsted. Factory manager.
John Milsted. Factory manager.

The manager of Ballymena’s Michelin factory has paid tribute to local employees who fought every inch of the way to keep the plant competitive.

After years of cutting costs and optimising energy use, manager John Milsted said the decision was ‘sad but unavoidable’ in economic terms.

“We have ended up as being one of the more expensive European plants, more expensive than our sister plants in France or elsewhere and the factors that make us more expensive include things we have talked about before; the high cost of energy in Northern Ireland, the logistics of working within Northern Ireland and, currently, there are short-term exchange rate issues which makes exporting into Europe in euros more difficult.

“All of those combined together lead us to today but, as I say, the fundamental reason is the overcapacity in the truck tyre market.

“This announcement is no reflection on our employees who are very good people,” he added. “I’ve been working on this for a year trying to find different scenarios that would work to keep us open but I can’t control the overcapacity in the market which is unfortunately the reason for this sad decision.”

The Mayor of Mid & east Antrim, Cllr. BIlly Ashe said Council representatives would be meeting management at Michelin to establish how they could ‘work together’ s to reduce the impact of the job losses. We will also seek to understand how the Executive intend to stem the tide of these job losses in the manufacturing sector.”