The potential loss of 500 jobs at a haulage company in Lurgan has been blamed on Brexit by the business’s owners.
In a letter to workers at Count y Armagh’s Morgan McLernon, the firm said it was considering closing the base as a direct result of issues relating to the UK’s decision to leave the European Union.
It is owned by Culina Group, the Shropshire-based company which also owns the Eddie Stobart Group. The parent company confirmed that it was in consultation to wind down operations at the site in an email to Business Live.
“Following an announcement on 7th August 2023, Culina Group can confirm that a proposal has been put forward to close the Morgan McLernon site in Lurgan, Northern Ireland,” a representative from the firm said. “A period of meaningful consultation has now been entered into with those colleagues affected.”
Politicians from all sides have been quick to react to the announcement with the DUP blaming falling trade from Great Britain to Northern Ireland since the announcement of the Windsor Framework. Meanwhile, Sinn Fein highlighted the vacuum at Stormont as worrying for at-risk workers.
Carla Lockhart, Upper Bann MP for the DUP, said trade between GB and Northern Ireland has been falling since the Northern Ireland Protocol and what it called the Irish Sea border had been introduced.
“It is clear that haulage companies based in Northern Ireland whose business model is predicated on being part of the United Kingdom economy are in real difficulty because of this,” she said, adding the retailers in Northern had questioned the practicality of the Windsor Framework.
“The underlying economic changes that inform this announcement clearly demonstrate how the Protocol/Windsor Framework is increasingly replacing the UK economy with a GB economy and attempting to put Northern Ireland in the same economy as the Republic of Ireland.”
Alliance MLA for Upper Bann Eóin Tennyson said the blame for the layoffs should be laid at the door of those which backed Brexit.
“The letter to staff cites Brexit amongst a number of external factors which have led to this decision,” he said. “It will be of little comfort to the workers impacted that some of the most vocal and reckless proponents of Brexit are only now decrying this unfortunate outcome.”
Sinn Féin MLA John O’Dowd alluded to the DUP’s boycott of Stormont as a blow for workers.
“It should not be lost on anyone that the company has pinned much of the blame for this announcement on the Brexit fall-out,” he said. “With no Economy Minister in place as a result of the boycott of the Executive by one party I will be contacting the Permanent Secretary at the Department of Economy to see what it can do to support the company and its workers.”
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