THE Michelin tyre factory in Ballymena, County Antrim, is set to close in 2018 with a loss of 860 jobs.
The company also announced increased productions at its Dundee plant in Scotland, and modernising another production facility in Stoke-on-Trent.
The Ballymena decision comes after a “significant downturn” in truck tyre demand in Europe since 2007, the company said.
Unite union said this was “devastating news.”
Unite’s Davy Thompson said in addition to workers employed directly by Michelin, “there are approximately 500 contractors and many more in the wider economy who now face the threat of redundancy as a result of this announcement”.
“These were highly-paid, secure jobs reflecting the progressive employment practices of Michelin and their loss will devastate the retail and services economy in this region,” he added.
Michelin said in a statement: “There is a strong need to reduce overcapacity and concentrate Michelin truck tyre production in larger, more competitive sites. Despite great efforts and progress being made in previous years, other European plants are still more competitive than Ballymena.”
The factory in Ballymena produced its first tyre on December 3 1969 and produces about 1 million bus and truck tyres every year, more than 70 per cent of its production capacity is exported to North America.