Wrightbus workers call for show of support from public at Friday rally - Invest NI speak of no-deal frustration

Dessie Blackadder

Reporter:

Dessie Blackadder

WRIGHTBUS workers have appealed for a show of public support as they stage a 'march for jobs' from the centre of Ballymena to the factory gates at Galgorm on Friday lunchtime.

The rally will assemble at the Unite Office at The Pentagon, Ballymena at 12 noon and then march to Galgorm for the rally around 1pm.

An update meeting at Ballymena Showgrounds yesterday afternoon was addresed by George Brash, the Unite regional officer and Unite Regional Coordinating Officer Susan Fitzgerald.

They stressed the need for a massive signal to government that Wrightbus 'needed direct intervention' and called on Wrightbus main shareholder Jeff Wright 'not to create any barriers' which would prevent jobs being saved.

At the meeting Unite revealed that four bidders are now interested in buying the company.

One is from the UK, one from China, and two from the European Union.

It has also emerged that Invest NI has loaned the Wrightbus group £2.5m in June 2019 in a bid to provide financial breathing space as the business sought a buyer.

The group was placed into administration last week, with the loss of 1,200 jobs, after it failed to find a new owner.

In a letter to Mid and East Antrim Council the Chief Executive, Alastair Hamilton said Wrightbus had been given full support throughout the process, adding : "“It was therefore extremely disappointing and frustrating that, having provided them with that support, including a funding package of £2.5 million, which gave sufficient time to allow bidders to conclude due diligence and make binding offers for the business, only to hear that they all found it impossible to conclude the transaction that would save the business and the jobs.”

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