Michelin has told staff at its tyre factory in Ballymena that the plant will close by 2018 with the loss of 860 jobs.
The company said the machines at the plant were outdated and that it could not afford to invest in upgrading the equipment given current demand, according to local reports. "Despite great efforts and progress being made in previous years, other European plants are still more competitive than Ballymena," Michelin said in a statement.
Davy Thompson, Unite's regional officer in Ballymena, said that the announcement was a "cruel blow in the mouth of Christmas".
Thompson said there were around 500 contractors and more in the wider economy that faced the threat of redundancy. "These were highly-paid, secure jobs reflecting the progressive employment practices of Michelin and their loss will devastate the retail and services economy in this region," he said.
Michelin employs 1000 people manufacturing tyres for trucks and busses at the factory, which has operated there since 1969. However bosses have warned that high energy costs in the region have made the plant less competitive.
A meeting was called for 12 noon on November 3, sparking fears that closure was on the cards. Redundancies are expected to begin in May 2016.
Join our new commenting forum
Join thought-provoking conversations, follow other Independent readers and see their replies