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New blow for Bombardier as 95 set to lose jobs in latest round of cutbacks

By John Mulgrew

The impending loss of almost 100 jobs at Bombardier has been described as another "huge blow" to the plane-maker as its local workforce continues to face an uncertain future.

A total of 95 workers, primarily support staff, both permanent and agency, are being let go at the Canadian-owned firm, which employs more than 4,000 locally.

The losses come after this newspaper revealed in May that an IBM outsourcing plan could lead to cutbacks at the company.

The fate of hundreds more jobs at the business could rest in the hands of US President Donald Trump, who has become embroiled in a trade row.

The dispute centres on a legal case brought by US aviation giant Boeing, claiming that the sale of Bombardier's aircraft, in particular its flagship C Series passenger jets, was partly subsidised by a $1bn bailout from the regional Quebec government.

If successful, the challenge could price Bombardier out of its biggest market.

Prime Minister Theresa May has asked President Trump to help broker a deal to resolve the disagreement.

A spokeswoman for Bombardier said: "Following the 7,500 global workforce reductions announced by Bombardier Inc last October, we have reviewed our manpower requirements in Belfast and regret to confirm that we must reduce our workforce levels by up to 95.

"Those impacted will be functional support personnel, including managers and professional staff.

"We acknowledge the impact this will have on our workforce and their families and will explore opportunities to help mitigate the number of compulsory redundancies.

"However, we need to continue to cut costs and improve efficiency to help ensure our long-term competitiveness."

Davy Thompson, from Unite the union, said the announcement was terrible news for local workers.

"(It is) "another blow to the Bombardier workforce in Belfast and comes in the wake of wider concerns over the ongoing trade dispute with Boeing," he added.

"The rationale offered by management is that this has been brought about by the outsourcing of IT and the need to reduce staff in functional areas.

"We do not agree with their case and we are calling on them to lift the threat of redundancies at this time."

The union said it also met with DUP leader Arlene Foster to discuss how her party could ensure the Government would "maximise pressure on Boeing to withdraw their case", which "poses a serious threat to the future of Bombardier".

DUP MP for East Belfast Gavin Robinson described the job losses as a "huge blow, not least for those families who will be directly impacted".

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