Engineering firm axes 90 jobs

The North took another jobs hit tonight when an engineering company linked to the oil and gas drilling industry announced nearly 100 job cuts.

Hughes Christensen in east Belfast said up to 90 of its 400 employees faced redundancy.

The job losses came at the end of a week which saw some 1,500 redundancies in the province, over 2% of the entire manufacturing workforce.

They were coupled with an expected 20 redundancies at a call centre in Londonderry which has lost a major contract.

The latest cuts come on the back of 45 more announced by Hughes Christensen in Belfast in February.

The company. which makes oil and gas drill-bits, is part of US-owned Baker Hughes which announced today it was reducing its workforce by 3,000 – nearly 8% of the entire global workforce.

It said the Belfast cuts were “in response to the stalled world economy, lower oil prices and continuing scaled back exploration and development spending by our customers in 2009.”

It added: “Drilling activity has fallen in the UK, and international activity is also forecast to decline in the coming months.”

The new job losses follow the cut of 87 at telecoms company Nortel in Co Antrim on Monday, 210 at Ford subcontractor Visteon in west Belfast on Tuesday, 95 at engineering company FG Wilson in Co Antrim on Wednesday and 975 at aircraft company Bombardier in east Belfast yesterday.

It was a week which Stormont Employment Minister Sir Reg Empey described as one of the worst in a long time.

“By any standards it is a very bad week,” he said.

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