REACTION: Bombardier in Belfast to cut 490 jobs

Bombardier in Belfast is set to shed 490 workers at the aerospace manufacturer.

A statement from the company said: "Following the global workforce adjustments announced by Bombardier Inc. on November 8, 2018, we have reviewed our manpower requirements in Belfast and regret to confirm that we must reduce our workforce across the company by 490 employees.

Bombardier

Bombardier

“We acknowledge the impact this will have on our workforce and their families and we continue to explore opportunities to help mitigate the number of compulsory redundancies. However, we need to continue to cut costs and improve the efficiency of our operations to help ensure our long-term competitiveness.”

The transport company employs around 70,000 globally and announced two weeks ago that 5,000 jobs would be cut.

Around 4,000 staff work at the company’s Northern Ireland sites.

The Canadian-headquartered company said it needs to cut costs and improve efficiency to help ensure its long-term competitiveness.

Bombardier is one of the biggest employers in the country, with a large base in East Belfast.

Its workers have faced uncertainty in recent times after threatened US trade tariffs placed a major question mark over aircraft production and prompted the intervention of the Prime Minister.

The US relented at the last moment and the jobs were saved, but Wednesday’s announcement that 490 positions will go will come as a bitter blow.

The posts are expected to be shed in February or March.

Jackie Pollock, Unite union regional secretary for Ireland, said: “Although these jobs will not go until February or March, this announcement is a cruel blow for the Bombardier workforce in the mouth of Christmas.

“Unite has feared for some time that Bombardier might be bringing forward large-scale redundancies, but this news exceeds our worst fears.”

Bombardier produces the wings for its new aircraft, the C-Series, in Belfast.

UUP MLA Andy Allen described today’s announcement of job losses at Bombardier as a major blow to the local economy.

The east Belfast MLA said: “Today’s announcement that 490 jobs are to be lost from Bombardier’s Northern Ireland operations is dreadful news for the workers affected, their families and Northern Ireland plc. It is a devastating blow.

“As I have stated before, Bombardier is Northern Ireland’s largest manufacturing employer with approximately 4,000 employees based in and around Belfast, and is an absolutely key component of the local economy. It is difficult to over-estimate the importance of Bombardier to not just East Belfast but the economic well-being of Northern Ireland plc.

“We as a party are committed to working with all stakeholders to avoid such losses and attract new investment. This has been the motivation behind our long-standing commitment to bring forward a meaningful manufacturing strategy.

“It appears these job losses are part of a plan to cut 5,000 jobs worldwide. These are high quality jobs that we simply cannot afford to lose, and it is extremely frustrating that this blow should come at a time when we have no functioning Assembly and Executive. We need political stability here in order to retain the jobs we have and attract new ones, and for that we need certain political parties to get over themselves and get back to work in Stormont.”

SDLP Business spokesman Pat Catney is now seeking an urgent meeting with Unions and staff following the announcement.

He said: “Today’s announcement is a bitter blow to the 490 Bombardier staff set to face redundancy, especially as we are only weeks away from Christmas.

“I am seeking an urgent meeting with Trade Unions to identify what can be done to protect the livelihoods of workers at Bombardier.

“In the face of growing global protectionism and the continued uncertainty of Brexit, we need to see power-sharing re-established to deliver a Manufacturing Strategy for Northern Ireland that can create jobs and protect livelihoods.”