Michelin closure: Company ‘must listen to workers over retraining’

Rodney Quigley said Michelin have been good employers
Rodney Quigley said Michelin have been good employers

A Ballymena man who has worked in Michelin for more than 30 years, said he hopes the company will “step up to the plate on retraining younger members of their workforce”.

The company announced on Tuesday that their Ballymena factory will close by 2018.

Rodney Quigley, 51, said: “I hope that Michelin, who I have heard are putting up £5 million for retraining of staff, listen to their workers to hear the skills they need to get new work.

“I know young men who left full-time work to come to Michelin thinking they would get job security and good wages, but that hasn’t worked out for them.

“I feel for the young boys in Michelin.”

Mr Quigley said he hopes, on his part, he will get “a half decent redundancy package, start lifting my pension at 55 and get by with a part-time job”.

“But there are young fellas out there trying to get mortgages and trying to pay off mortgages,” he added.

“In two and a half years time there will be hundreds of people looking for a new job.”

Mr Quigley said the news received by Michelin workers on Tuesday “will have a devastating effect on businesses in Broughshane, Kells, Cullybackey and other parts of Northern Ireland”.

He added: “I would not have what I do today if it had not been for Michelin. Their terms and conditions are very good for workers.

“They paid well and I had no complaints.”

It is understood a Michelin employee on a full-time contract earned around £30,000 a year.

Mr Quigley said he believed “the Government in Westminster have a lot to answer for” citing “corporation tax and energy prices” as the reason for Michelin’s demise in Ballymena.

“Michelin have made it abundantly clear that over the past few years energy prices were crippling the company,” he said.

“If you are making tyres in another country for a quarter of the expenditure of what is needed in Ballymena, then they will move. There needed to be major government investment.

“There had been talk about us not being able to keep going much longer, but that wasn’t thought to happen so soon.

“We were all shocked after the meeting.

“It was like what happened in Gallaher’s factory happening all over again.”