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Bombardier cutting 7,500 jobs across global operations: Fears more staff could go in Belfast

Job cuts come after 1,080 losses in Belfast this year already

By John Mulgrew

Published 21/10/2016

Bombardier is facing a tough time in an uncertain global airline market
Bombardier is facing a tough time in an uncertain global airline market
Bombardier is one of Northern Ireland's largest employers

Further job losses are feared at Bombardier in Northern Ireland after it revealed it is cutting another 7,500 jobs across the company, slashing around 10% of its workforce.

The plane maker, which employs around 5,000 staff in Belfast, is understood to be cutting two-thirds of the jobs in Bombardier Transportation.

The rest of the cuts will be made in the aerospace division.

But the company has not said how many Northern Ireland jobs will be affected.

Bombardier's main operation here is in Belfast, but it also has factories in Newtownabbey, Dunmurry and Newtownards.

It announced it was cutting 1,080 jobs in Northern Ireland over the next two years, and bringing 700 of those losses forward this year.

A spokeswoman for Bombardier in Belfast said: "Following the update today by Bombardier Inc on its five-year turnaround plan, we will be evaluating the impact on our Belfast operations and will communicate with our employees when that is completed.

"We are not in a position to elaborate further at this time."

Last month it announced that "serious concerns" meant it was likely to rein in production of its flagship passenger jets in Belfast after it was revealed the plane-maker would be delivering just half the total number of planned CSeries passenger aircraft this year.

The wings and part of the fuselage of the jet are made in Belfast.

Alain Bellemare, chief executive, said: "After successfully de-risking our business last year, our focus has shifted to building a clear path to profitable earnings growth and cash generation. The actions announced today will ensure we have the right cost structure, workforce and organization to compete and win in the future.

"We are confident in our strategy, our eadership team and our ability to achieve both our 2016 goals and our 2020 turn-around plan objectives.”

Bombardier has said the 7,500 cuts will be "partially offset by strategic hiring to support the ramp-up for key growth programs, including the C Series and Global 7000, as well as to support major rail contract wins".

Economy Minister Simon Hamilton said: “Today’s announcement by Bombardier will come as a great shock to the Northern Ireland workforce. The staff at Bombardier's sites across Northern Ireland are foremost in my thoughts as they face into an uncertain time ahead.

“I, and my officials in Invest NI, together with colleagues in the UK Department for Business Energy & Industrial Strategy will continue to engage with Bombardier management both here and in Canada.

"As the company works through the detail of what the impact will be here, we will do absolutely everything we can and take every opportunity available to us to highlight to senior decision makers in the company the strength of Bombardier's Northern Ireland operations and the skills of the workforce. I will do everything I can to fight to save as many Bombardier jobs in Northern Ireland as possible.”

"It had been our hope that the announcement in February represented a peak in potential job losses at the company. Based on today’s announcement from Canada it is clear that the combined pressures on both its markets and the ongoing need to drive competitiveness means the organisation is having to make further changes to its business to safeguard its future.

“When I met with Michael Ryan recently he discussed with me Bombardier's ongoing challenges and it was made clear to me that government intervention would not help them address the difficulties the business is facing across the globe."

Davy Thompson of the Unite union said: "We are deeply concerned that these job-losses could affect the Belfast workforce as it is involved in every Bombardier line of production. The job-losses amount to one-in-ten of their global workforce but there is no further information about what this will mean for Belfast.

“Our members can be assured that Unite will work over the coming period to minimise any potential job-losses here and if necessary we will strive to deliver the best possible outcome for those affected. We can only hope that today’s announcement will mean the company is better positioned to achieve long-term growth and safeguard future employment.

"Yesterday our union joined with Manufacturing NI, which represents employers in the sector, to launch a campaign for the Northern Ireland Executive to reverse course and adopt a strategic approach to defending and growing NI industry.

"The scale of today’s announcement, coming on the back of similar announcements over the past two years which have seen us lose 6,000 high-value added core jobs in the sector, only reinforces the case for such an approach."

Invest NI chief executive Alastair Hamilton: "Today’s news will be very upsetting to those working for the company, and their families, especially following on from the announcement made in February.

"The company is yet to provide the detail on where these job losses will come from and therefore we do not yet know the potential impact on Northern Ireland.

"It is important to note that today’s announcement by the company signals an ongoing ramp-up on its newest aircraft programmes, the CSeries and Global 7000, both of which have significant Northern Ireland work content.

"We will continue to work closely with Michael and his team in Belfast to support them through this process, and will maintain contact with the management team in Canada to present the strengths and benefits of Northern Ireland as part of the Bombardier operation.

"We also remain committed to the implement the Aerospace Growth Partnership’s Industrial Strategy for UK Aerospace and our regional strategy for the sector."

DUP MP for East Belfast, Gavin Robinson, said it is "very troubling news for Bombardier workers in Northern Ireland".

"I have already spoken to Michael Ryan from Bombardier this morning along with the Economy Minister Simon Hamilton. I will continue to work with management of the company at all levels to establish what the impact of this is likely to mean for workers in Belfast and their other local sites.

"We have assured the company of our full support, both locally within the Executive and I will continue to ensure that it is raised at all levels within Westminster.                                                           

"There had been some positive steps forward in terms of the CSeries aircraft, including developments at London City Airport which can help it accommodate CSeries aircraft. However, the CSeries project has clearly faced significant challenges and has impacted on Bombardier's operations right across the globe."

"Bombardier is a key part of the economy, not just in Belfast but of Northern Ireland as a whole. Whist local representatives may have a limited impact on a global problem I will continue to stand with the company and its employees." 

The cuts come 24 hours after Manufacturing NI and Unite joined together to launch a joint campaign calling on the Northern Ireland Executive to adopt an industrial strategy.

Economy Minister Simon Hamilton has ruled out any form of dedicated manufacturing plan.

But Stephen Kelly, chief executive of Manufacturing NI, said: "Northern Ireland's manufacturing sector employs more than 85,000 and contributes more than £18bn in sales, of which £14bn are external.

"An opportunity exists to do more, so it is vitally important that our politicians adopt an ambitious approach to create the conditions which will allow manufacturing to grow to 20% of the Northern Ireland economy, creating jobs, increasing investment and quickly assisting the Executive to deliver a rebalanced economy which benefits the entire region. We need an industrial strategy to ensure that high-value added manufacturing stays on the agenda, that there is real action to lower energy and transport costs and to win foreign direct investment.

Unite regional secretary Jimmy Kelly added: "Northern Ireland has lost 6,000 jobs in manufacturing over the past two years - these were among the best paid jobs in the region and will not be easily replaced by jobs of an equivalent value."

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