Bombardier staff ‘breathe sigh of relief’, but some jobs at risk

Bombardier in Belfast makes wings for the C-Series aircraft
Bombardier in Belfast makes wings for the C-Series aircraft

Thousands of relieved Bombardier staff will return to work today safe in the knowledge that their jobs appear to have been saved, thanks to a surprise legal ruling in the United States.

The Canadian aerospace firm won a landmark legal battle on Friday after the US International Trade Commission (ITC) voted unanimously to overturn a decision to impose damaging tariffs on imports of its C-Series aircraft.

The Trump administration had threatened to impose duties of 292% following a complaint brought by rival Boeing, which claimed the aircraft are being sold at below cost and are being fuelled by government subsidies.

But the ITC found no evidence that Boeing suffered any injury as a result of Atlanta-based Delta Airlines’ order of the C-Series passenger jets.

Politicians and unions reacted with surprise and relief at the ruling, as it had been widely anticipated that Bombardier would fail in its bid to overturn the tariffs.

The move also came as a huge relief to thousands of workers in Belfast, where the C-Series wings are produced.

However, that relief has been tempered by reports that around 100 workers at Bombardier are set to lose their jobs this week.

According to the Sunday Life, the positions will be axed due to jobs being moved to Morocco, where labour is cheaper, and “not everyone being needed to work on the C-Series parts”.

Davy Thompson, regional officer for Unite the Union, said it will “continue to fight for every single job”.

He told the News Letter yesterday: “Friday’s announcement that the ruling had gone in Bombardier’s favour was fantastic news and workers will be breathing a huge sigh of relief at the outcome.

“But it has been mitigated somewhat by the ongoing redundancy situation.

“Many of these jobs are at risk due to outsourcing, which we continue to oppose robustly.”

Regarding the ITC’s decision on Friday, Mr Thompson believes the unions played a “major role” in the process.

“While the politicians here did all they could do in terms of lobbying their contacts, the bulk of the heavy lifting was done by the unions.”