2 March 2006 Edition

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Support for Belfast TriVirix workers

Sinn Féin President Gerry Adams is calling on British Secretary of State, Peter Hain to support efforts to rescue the TriVirix International company which went into administration last week.

The West Belfast MP called on the British government and its investment agencies to protect public investment in the company by ensuring TriVirix remains operational and attractive to potential buyers.

"The British government and Invest NI need to work with the administrator and provide investment to sustain the plant and support the employees until a new owner can be found," said Adams.

TriVirix is a high tech manufacturer of electronic equipment for the medical industry. Sited at Springvale in West Belfast the American based company has received more than £2.5 million in government grants since 1999.

Seventy-six workers were made redundant after the company announced it was going into administration. The workers joined trade union representatives and politicians at a mass rally outside the offices of Invest NI on Tuesday calling for immediate action to save the plant.

Organisers of the protest rally, the Communications Workers Union (CWU), said it was important to remember that the site is situated in West Belfast, an area that has 13% unemployment as compared to the Belfast average of 4.6%.

Despite this, Invest NI has made it clear that it will not be intervening to save the factory. Steve Catterall of the CWU said the fact that it is a government body that has refused any grant monies to help support the workforce means that the likelihood of closure is greater.

Last weekend CWU General Secretary Billy Hayes travelled to Belfast to meet other union officials and Sinn Féin representatives including Gerry Adams and local MLA Michael Ferguson.

At the protest outside the Belfast headquarters of INI Gerry Adams said: "It is outrageous that the workface have been abandoned in this way by 'fly-by-night' multinational companies who come and take, then leave with no sense of responsibility for the local community.

"I have been in contact with both the Secretary of State Peter Hain and Angela Smith on this matter and it is ironic that today Angela Smith, Direct Rule Minister for Enterprise Trade & Investment is launching a Skills Strategy when we are trying to protect a very skilled workforce in West Belfast."

Michael Ferguson MLA ,commenting after joining Billy Hayes CWU General Secretary and other Party representatives at a meeting with INI said: "I told INI that they needed to make a positive recommendation to Angela Smith supporting our request for funding to allow for 'buying time'.

"In England the Rover Company were supported with hundreds of thousands of pounds to allow for buying time and Irish workers should be treated no differently. It is now up to the British Government to make a positive ministerial intervention on behalf of this mixed workforce which has the support of all political parties."

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