Ulster Unionist MEP Jim Nicholson has said that he will continue to do everything possible to defend local jobs in Japan Tobacco International’s Gallaher plant at Ballymena, Northern Ireland, according to a story in the Antrim Times.
Nicholson’s comments come as representatives of the European Parliament, Council and European Commission agreed to a compromise in negotiations over the EU’s Tobacco Products Directive.
The new directive has still to be formally adopted by the European Parliament and the Council. And once the directive is adopted, member states will have two years to transpose the new rules into national law.
One aspect of the compromise would mean that the minimum size of roll-your-own tobacco packs would rise to 30 g, which would effectively render a making line at the JTI plant obsolete, with possible implications for about 200-300 jobs.
“Given the well-known health implications of smoking, the EU’s Tobacco Products Directive had the laudable intention of discouraging young people from taking up the habit,” said Nicholson.
“Nevertheless, I believe these important concerns have not been sufficiently balanced with the implications for local jobs.
“This week in Brussels negotiators have agreed to a minimum pack size of 30 g for pouches of RYO tobacco. Production of … [RYO] packs is a significant part of the business at the JTI/Gallaher plant in Ballymena. This decision has major implications for the Northern Ireland economy as it will effectively remove a production line from the factory and threaten hundreds of jobs when it is implemented.
“That is why I will now work to secure the 40 signatures needed to table an amendment to help safeguard the jobs and livelihoods of the employees in JTI/Gallaher’s Ballymena plant – this is an important issue for Northern Ireland.”
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