Leadership of powerful union speaks out

Len McCluskey
Len McCluskey

The leader of a vast trade union has spoken in support of Belfast workers as the Bombardier row continues.

Len McCluskey, general secretary of Unite (and a key ally of Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn), issued a statement on Monday on the matter.

His union – which describes itself as the UK’s biggest – has 1.2 million members in Great Britain, and just under 40,000 in Northern Ireland, according to its 2016 annual returns.

Its statement said: “The government, DUP and Sinn Fein must step up to defend right to invest in vital manufacturing sector and fully use their leverage to defend Belfast jobs.”

It went on to quote Mr McCluskey as attacking Boeing’s “predatory behaviour”.

“My union stands in full solidarity with the workforce in Belfast,” he said.

He went on to add that he will press other unions in Canada to raise concerns too.

Meanwhile Jimmy Kelly, Unite regional secretary for Ireland, said: “The DUP have a ‘confidence and supply’ arrangement with the Tory government – at the very least that government should now move to review existing Boeing contracts in light of their destructive behaviour.”

He also said Sinn Fein “has influence on Capitol Hill”, and that it too should impress upon US lawmakers the potential risks to Northern Ireland arising from the dispute.