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Job Losses in Manufacturing Industry

Part of Private Notice Question – in the Northern Ireland Assembly at 4:15 pm on 20th April 2009.

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Photo of Arlene Foster Arlene Foster DUP 4:15 pm, 20th April 2009

I thank the Member for his question. He is absolutely right; there is only so much that Government can do. I hope that Sir Reg Empey and I will be able to offer packages in the near future, but employers must play their part and, as part of those packages, offer retraining and reskilling to their staff.

That is a big commitment for them. However, indigenous employers in particular have told me that they want to retain their staff. William Wright of Wrightbus said that the redundancies that he announced some time ago were the first that he had ever had to make. That is a big wrench for someone of his standing.

We will certainly work with employers. We will tell them that they have a responsibility to the community — as I said, most of them take that responsibility seriously — and that we want them to work with the Executive so that we can keep people in their jobs in the short term. By doing so, those firms will be ready when the upturn comes, in the medium to long term. In fact, this represents an opportunity for employers to provide their staff with new skills and training, and we hope that they will see it as such.