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Shell shock! ‘Lots of good folk losing jobs’

It was news no worker was expecting, nor should they have been. Unite the Union were caught completely off guard too. A sense of shell shock was how the news was greeted among long-serving staff.

There are workers who have spent 40 years at Glen Dimplex. There are whole families who work there – couples too. Upwards of 200 members of staff will now be looking down the barrel of unemployment.

There was no indication, or signs, that this move was coming. In fact, employees were only being briefed last week, as part of the pay negotiations, that things will be incredibly busy for the next six months. This is a different sort of busy now.

Unite have come out fighting, determined to reverse management’s position. They have form but it’s a big ask. Talks will begin next week after staff, who work a four-day work week, were effectively sent home early on Thursday, to process and digest the news over what will now be a long weekend.

The union said shutting the site makes no sense given the soaring profits and dividends reported by the group. The latest accounts of the Glen Dimplex Europe holding company show it paid out 3.8 million euros in dividends on 42.8 million euros of profits in the 2021-2022 financial year.

Unite regional officer Neil Moore said: “Workers were brought together to hear [Thursday] morning’s announcement without any warning. Many have been employed at the site for decades and the impact on them will be devastating. Shutting this factory will strike hard at the economy throughout the Portadown area.

“There is no possible justification for closing this site given the huge profits and bumper dividends reported by Glen Dimplex. This is a very profitable company with an expanding turnover and Portadown continues to make a huge contribution to that. From speaking to our shop stewards, it is clear the entire workforce is in shock at this announcement. Our job now is to quickly discuss this unjustified threat and our next steps in response.”

The Lord Mayor of ABC, Margaret Tinsely, said the announcement was “devastating news for employees and their families”.

She added: “I have requested council officers to urgently engage with the company to discuss measures of support during this challenging time. Anyone who requires employability and skills support or advice is encouraged to make contact with our Economic Development Team.”

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