Workers at Ballymena’s Michelin plant have been told the factory is to close.
The announcement was made to workers at a meeting in the Raceview Road factory at 12 noon.
It is understood that the factory will be run down over the next two years.
Around 800 people are directly employed at the plant.
North Antrim MP Ian Paisley said the news that Michelin will close its doors in North Antrim in 2018 is ‘apocalyptic in terms of employment for my constituency’.
He said: “860 workers, in the jaws of Christmas, have received the news that they are now effectively on notice and my heart goes out to them at this time. It cannot be understated how big a blow this is to the manufacturing industry in Northern Ireland.
“For North Antrim this means the loss of millions of pounds of wages annually and is frankly hard to come to terms with.
“I understand that the announcement is part of a wider EU re-structuring by the company and anyone who has followed tyre manufacturing trends, as I have, will have noticed the impact that cheap Far Eastern imports have had on Goodyear and how over-capacity has resulted in re-structuring elsewhere.
“The North Antrim factory has put up a valiant fight, but today they have bowed their head.
“I have for several years campaigned for reduced energy costs to assist this company and I know that much work was done to assist them from central government.
But the re-structuring has not saved the North Antrim plant and frankly the UK operation, whilst they have cut off an arm today, I believe their ultimate survival is not certain. “I have spoken with Michelin and I have secured from the Michelin Development Community Fund (MDCF), £5 million to assist the local community with new employment start-ups. This will go some way in creating fresh opportunities.
“I have today tabled an urgent question in parliament and intend on raising this matter tomorrow (Wednesday). This sees another massive blow to the manufacturing industry in North Antrim and my heart goes out to all those affected.”