Unite Legal Services is backing the ‘Rally For a Future’ in Ballymena on Saturday February 6 2016, to show its support for the thousands of people facing job losses when two of the town’s factories close.
Unite the Union’s planned demonstration follows the news that JTI Gallaher tobacco factory in Ballymena will close by 2017, which will see 870 jobs lost. Similarly, Ballymena’s Michelin tyre factory is also set to close in 2018, with the loss of 860 jobs.
The closure of the two factories will see more than 1,700 job losses.
With many local people in fear for the town’s future, Unite the Union is calling on Invest NI to focus its resources to attract foreign direct investment in manufacturing.
Jimmy Kelly, Ireland secretary at Unite the Union, said: “The Rally For a Future initiative was initiated and has been driven by our members working in the JTI Gallaher and Michelin factories in Ballymena. They decided that they would not be bystanders as their town suffered devastating job losses.
“From my discussions with those who are busy campaigning on the ground day after day, Rally For a Future has really hit a chord and is being received with huge enthusiasm in the town.
“The public backing of Liam Neeson and the endorsement of the campaign by Ballymena United Football Club has created a real buzz in the town. There's also a growing awareness and interest from workers in other parts of Northern Ireland.
“This is a vital campaign for all manufacturing workers. We simply can't accept that the sector is finished, as it appears Invest NI has. Ballymena, like many other parts of Northern Ireland, can offer a huge amount to foreign investors but without a focussed effort that potential will be lost."
Unite the Union has applied to the Parades Commission to march from its offices in Ballymena's Ballymoney Road, to Broadway in the Ballymena town centre this Saturday.
Ballymena-born Hollywood actor, Liam Neeson, pledges his support for the ‘Rally For a Future’ campaign. Watch the video here: