A trades union proposal for JTI’s Lisnafillan factory to become a ‘Centre of Excellence’ for pouch tobacco and cigar manufacture could save 500 jobs, it has been claimed.
On Monday Unite’s Regional Secretary, Jimmy Kelly, led a delegation comprising representatives of the union and local management which jointly delivered Unite’s job-saving plan.
He said: “Today was the culmination of the efforts of Unite officers and stewards to bring forward a strong and viable proposal to safeguard employment at Lisnafillan following JTI’s announcement that it planned to close the Ballymena plant. Our positive approach to seeking to retain employment onsite was overwhelmingly endorsed by our members in a ballot.
“JTI indicated that closing the plant would result in cost-savings of $89 million a year. Our counter-proposal would realise annualised cost-savings of $60 million through efficiencies and increased economies of scale obtained from concentrating all pouch tobacco production on one site. The proposal concedes the loss of cigarette manufacture and some terms and conditions but maintains more than 500 jobs on-site producing to meet demand in a growing market.
“This would allow JTI to avoid significant capital expenditure in addition to significantly reducing redundancy costs. It allows JTI to benefit from Ballymena’s excellent skills-base and security around energy supply and other risk factors by comparison to Poland.
“Today we jointly presented our counter-proposal with site management who have worked collaboratively with us in developing this proposal. The decision on this now rests with JTI corporate management in Geneva. Unite will continue to seek support for our proposal from political leaders who have a vital role to play in maximising our chances of success. A senior Unite delegation gave a presentation on our proposal to First Minister Peter Robinson last week and today (Tuesday 9th December), we will be jointly presenting our proposal to DETI Minister Arlene Foster and DEL Minister Stephen Farry to seek their support for our proposals”, he said.