Politicians are calling for an urgent meeting with Caterpillar as its move to outsource some of its services puts 100 jobs at risk in its Springvale Business Park site.
Staff were briefed at the financial services department in the west Belfast base, where they were told that redundancy packages would be on offer following the firm’s move to outsource the financial element of the business there to multinational professional services company Accenture.
In a statement the company said: “As part of Caterpillar’s continuous journey to improve the efficiency and effectiveness of its finance and accounting operations, the company informed employees of its decision to move to a global process model and partner with Accenture for the delivery of select finance and accounting activities.
“This partnership will lead to a transition of work currently performed at multiple Caterpillar finance operation locations to multiple Accenture finance operation locations. Caterpillar performs finance and accounting work in over 20 countries, and we anticipate that this will have an impact in most of our major finance operation locations.
“Accenture is currently working with us to complete an analysis of current processes.
“This will be a phased transition approach over the next 12 months, and we will communicate with our employees as we know more.
“We are not estimating job impacts currently but do anticipate some impact. Caterpillar is transferring work performed at its west Belfast base to outsourcing firm Accenture, which has a long-standing relationship with the company.”
West Belfast Sinn Fein MP Paul Maskey said he had called the company seeking an urgent meeting.
He said: “This is a very difficult time for the workers at Caterpillar and their families and this news will have come as a devastating blow for them but also for the economy of the wider area. I have been engaging with the workers to hear their concerns and I am seeking an urgent meeting with the company.
“Given the ongoing uncertainty over Brexit, this will only add to the pressure on the local economy and community.
“Management at the company now need to work with staff and to make sure employees are kept up to date with all developments and if the jobs cannot be saved, they should be offered retraining and upskilling opportunities.”
SDLP councillor Brian Heading and local representative Paul Doherty have also requested a meeting.
Mr Heading said: “Caterpillar’s west Belfast base has provided skilled jobs for local people here for a long time. This announcement will cause significant concern for local workers who, I understand, have been told that redundancy packages are on offer.
“We have requested an urgent meeting with Caterpillar and will be speaking with trade union representatives to support the staff in any way we can.”
West Belfast SDLP representative Paul Doherty added: “The transfer of Caterpillar’s global finance operation to Accenture will cause significant concern.
“With no local Accenture operation, these jobs are under threat and workers will be worried about their future.
“I have been in touch with the company this morning seeking clarity around the future of workers at the site. We will do all we can to support them.”
Alongside the finance centre set up in Belfast in 2005, Caterpillar also has a manufacturing facility in Larne.
Caterpillar closed its Monkstown facility outside Belfast in 2016, with up to 250 staff affected by the phased closure.
The firm attributed the job losses to a cost-saving exercise.