One of Northern Ireland’s largest employers Wrightbus has gone into administration, with the loss of 1,200 jobs.
The engineering company, which manufactured the New Routemaster “Boris Bus”, had been in talks with two potential buyers but these pulled out of their deals last week.
Just 50 jobs have been retained at the firm, with the remainder made redundant.
DUP MP Ian Paisley told Good Morning Ulster the news was a “real tragedy” for its employees and said it was likely a further 1,700 jobs in Wrightbus’ supply chain would be affected.
“The administrator will need to find someone of calibre and of real standing who has the wherewithal and the skill to take this company on,” he said.
Stephen Kelly, chief executive at representative body Manufacturing NI, said the administration would be a “devastating blow” to the staff at Wrightbus, the manufacturing sector in Northern Ireland and the local economy. Jobs have already been lost at aerospace firm Bombardier this year, while shipbuilder Harland and Wolff entered administration last month.
“Businesses in the supporting supply chain have been doing what they can to support [Wrightbus] over this past year in the hope the business can be saved,” Kelly told the Belfast Telegraph.
Norman Stephens, who had worked for the company for 30 years, told the BBC he had “nothing” now.
“For the last five years, management has told us that they can’t give us a wage rise as they were investing it in the company,” he said.
“Who is going to employ a 62-year-old man? I have nothing now. That’s it.”
There were two rounds of 95 redundancies at the firm in February and June last year, which it said was in response to low levels of demand for new buses across the UK.
Wrightbus had not commented at the time of publication.