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Anderson challenges Michelin Ballymena Plant Closure in European Parliament

11 November, 2015 - by Martina Anderson MEP

Sinn Féin MEP Martina Anderson has met with the EU Office Director of Michelin to discuss the company's decision to close its Ballymena facility, costing the area 860 direct jobs and countless others indirectly.

Speaking from Brussels, Martina Anderson said;

"I and Sinn Féin are extremely disappointment with Michelin's decision to close the plant at Ballymena. That disappointment was compounded by the announcement that Michelin would be investing over £65 million in two plants in Britain.

"We had a frank discussion about the implications for Ballymena and the surrounding areas during which I secured a commitment from Michelin that it would go further than simply providing a redundancy package for the 860 workers. Michelin guaranteed that they would work with local manufacturers and undertake a reskilling and retraining programme.

"I sincerely hope that this programme has the sufficient depth and resources to assist workers seeking reemployment."

Martina Anderson continued;

"Throughout the course of our discussion I sought information on the exact amount of money given in grants to Michelin from Invest NI and received a further commitment that all money would be repaid.

"Having asked the representative of the approach of the Executive I would call on the Enterprise Trade and Investment Minister to gives his assessment of the situation and explain why the Michelin representative claimed the Minister, "accepted the rationale and understood the decision", to close the plant.

"On one hand Michelin is saying that the rationale behind their decision is because of a surge of cheaper Chinese tyres into the European market. On the other, the company is able to invest £65 million in Britain and employ additional people there.

"I would therefore call on the Enterprise Trade and Investment Minister and the Employment and Learning Minster to call on the British Secretary of State to investigate rigorously and completely the EU Globalisation Fund. This fund presents opportunities for reskilling and retraining and should be explored by the British Government as, unfortunately, the Executive cannot access it.

"The British Government has never tapped into this fund for the people of the North and now should be the perfect time for them to start." ENDS

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