Sinn Féin MEP Martina Anderson has said it is irresponsible to link the closure of Gallagher’s tobacco factory to an EU directive geared to prevent children from smoking.
Ms Anderson said;
“Obviously this is devastating news for the workers involved and their families and my thoughts are with them.
“However, We need to be very clear about the reasons for the relocation of JTI at the cost of 900 jobs.
“The EU tobacco directive does not take effect until 2016. JTI have also stated they are locating to other EU member states. These too will be equally affected by the directive.
“The reason for JTI Gallaher’s closing their plant in Ballymena is to increase its profit margins and save money on labour costs by moving to a country with lower wages.
“It is irresponsible for elected representatives to provide cover for JTI or seek to score inaccurate political points on the back of job losses.
“We should be standing together as elected representatives in order to provide those who have lost their jobs with a focused retraining and reskilling package.
“Our focus should be asking very clearly as to why the British Government has never applied to the European Union’s Globalisation fund for workers in the north of Ireland, which is designed to help those who have been made redundant.”