Close to 100 jobs are at risk at bus maker the Wrights Group after the firm annouced a consultation process against the backdrop of continuing low levels of demand in the UK bus market.
The Ballymena based business said it anticipates that up to 95 roles could be affected within the company’s Wrightbus, Customcare and EN-Drive subsidiaries.
That reduction is in addition to the roles made redundant following a similar consultation process in February this year.
“There is a good deal of continuing uncertainty - specifically in the UK market - at present, which is causing private and public bus operators alike to delay or postpone their vehicle investment programmes” said Wrights Group chair Mark Nodder.
“This has a direct impact on production levels at our Ballymena facilities and the announcement that we are making today - difficult and regrettable as it is - is nonetheless necessary to align workforce requirements with our near term order book.”
He said the firm was determined to work with staff , the union, employee representatives and other stakeholders to mitigate both the scale and the impact of the cuts.
“With existing contracts in build or in the pipeline, and a number of potential projects yet to come to fruition, the company continues to be well positioned for when the market demand for new buses returns to more normal levels,” he added.
The union Unite said bosses needed to clarify whether phased redundancies were designed to avoid triggering ninety-day consultation
Responding on behalf of the union, which represents the large majority of the approximately six hundred strong workforce, regional officer George Brash said: “Unite are deeply sceptical of the timing of what appears another major job loss announcement by the Wright group.”
“Given it is less than four months since the last redundancy – which just happened to be below one hundred job losses – we have to question whether Wright group bosses are purposefully staggering job losses so that they don’t exceed the threshold triggering a full ninety-day consultation period and the opportunity for our union to bring forward alternatives.
“Unite will continue our efforts to break the logjam on orders and defend Northern Ireland jobs, and call on our politicians and the economic development agency, Invest NI to do likewise.