Coronavirus: Ballymena firm Wrightbus to cut up to 125 jobs

A completed Bus Eireann bus leaves the Wrightbus plant in Ballymena, Northern IrelandImage copyright
Liam McBurney/PA

Wrightbus, the Ballymena bus builder, is cutting up to 125 staff as a response to the economic slowdown.

It will make up to 35 permanent employees redundant as well as reducing agency staff by up to 90 workers “over a phased period”.

The firm’s owners say it will still have 10 times the workforce it had when they bought it out of administration last year.

Wrightbus’ chief executive said the redundancies “are a necessary measure”.

“When we saved Wrightbus there were only about 50 employees, and since then we have grown the workforce to 700,” said chief executive Buta Atwal.

“The decision has been taken to trim the workforce to the size we believe we will need to see us through to the end of the year.

“The redundancies are a necessary measure given the economic slowdown as a result of the current coronavirus crisis.”

Mr Atwal said a large part of the workforce had been furloughed but around 100 engineers, designers and sales staff had continued working through the crisis.

He added that the aim was still to have around 1,000 people working the firm by the end of 2021 and “we hope to be in a position to re-hire some of those who have been made redundant”.

‘Very disappointing’

Responding to the announcement, the North Antrim MP Ian Paisley called on the government to bring forward the hydrogen bus strategy for the UK.

“It is very disappointing that Wrightbus have been forced to announce redundancies,” said Mr Paisley.

“Since the company was taken over the company has been growing the workforce steadily, but I share the company’s hope that their long-term vision can still be achieved.

“There are obvious fears about the longer-term impact of the Covid-19 outbreak on the wider Northern Ireland economy and that such redundancies will escalate in the future.”

Mr Paisley added that bringing forward the “much-needed hydrogen bus strategy” would be “transformative” for the industry and also help in the achievement of environmental goals.

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