Statement on the potential closure of JTI in Ballymena
News of the potential closure of the JTI Plant near Ballymena is a devastating blow to the 800 workers, North Antrim and the wider NI economy. It will mean almost £60m in annual wages and £20m in their local supply chain potentially lost. When you consider that 800 jobs leaving the Ballymena is the equivalent to around 7,900 jobs in Belfast, you begin to get a sense of the scale on the impact this potential closure will have.
JTI have indicated that stricter regulation is a cause however the company will continue production of their products in lower cost plant in Eastern Europe. They are essentially deciding that, in the medium and long term, to invest in the Ballymena plant new production lines does not stack up given the costs of manufacturing in Northern Ireland. There are other major employers in North Antrim and across Northern Ireland which need similar investment in production lines. This potential closure should be an urgent call to action for our Executive and Regulators to create a cost competitive environment which would see companies invest in manufacturing processes thus safeguarding jobs for the long term.
Commit to that now and these jobs may be saved.