As many as 280 jobs are under threat at planemaker Bombardier’s Belfast division following a review forced by weak demand for some of its business jets, the Canadian company said.
The firm said it will cut more than 1,750 jobs in total with around 1,000 coming from its Montreal HQ and another 500 from its Toronto base.
That leaves up to 280 posts to go in Belfast where a spokeswoman said every effort would be made to minimise the impact of the cuts in the coming months.
The Belfast plant, which employs around 5,000 in total, is a critical component in the design and production of the new CSeries commercial aircraft.
However, the company said it is reducing production of its Global 5000 and Global 6000 aircraft, the largest of its business jets, beginning next month and going into the first quarter of 2016.
‘As a result of Bombardier Business Aircraft’s announcement today that it is adjusting the Global aircraft production rates, we unfortunately need to make reductions in our workforce levels in Belfast, in line with customer demand,” said the spokeswoman.
“Up to 280 of our workforce will be impacted, but we plan to mitigate this number through a range of measures, including transfers to other programmes and projects.”
The majority affected they added woud be contract, support workers known as the complementary labour force and other temporary and agency staff working alongside full-time employees.
“A small number of Bombardier employees will also be affected, but we will look at all opportunities to avoid the need for compulsory redundancies within our permanent workforce.
“We deeply regret the impact this will have on all those affected and their families,” she added.
Davy Thompson, regional coordinating officer with the union Unite said the announcement highlighted the need for better protection for contract workers.
“We are very disappointed by the scale of job-losses associated with this announcement, although they represent only a proportion of the 1,750 jobs that Bombardier plan to shed globally.
“The job losses are likely to be concentrated in the ‘complementary labour force’ although the scale will mean that some ‘core’ staff may be affected.
“Management have indicated that they intend to ensure that job losses to ‘core’ staff are delivered through our social pact to avoid compulsory redundancies.”
Stating that the union would work with the firm to ensure the best possible outcome for all members, Mr Thompson called for wider action on the issue.
“This announcement highlights the inadequacy of existing employment protection, in particular for that afforded to agency workers who are making up more and more of the overall Northern Ireland labour force.
“There’s a need for Stormont politicians to take action to improve worker protections.”
MP for east Belfast Gavin Robinson said the losses would have an impact over a wide area.
“This comes on the back of earlier job losses which were also from temporary or contract workers.
“Bombardier is East Belfast’s biggest employer and I have already been speaking to the Enterprise Minister Jonathan Bell today to discuss this announcement.
“He has assured me that he, along with officials from Invest NI, will maintain close contact with Bombardier’s management to support their activities in Northern Ireland.”