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Bombardier to cut 220 jobs in latest blow to industry

By John Mulgrew

Published 15/05/2015

Bombardier is axing hundreds of jobs
Bombardier is axing hundreds of jobs

Aerospace giant Bombardier is cutting at least 220 jobs at its east Belfast base in yet another blow to Northern Ireland manufacturing.

The Canadian-owned plane maker said the move was in response to weak demand for its Global 5000 and Global 6000 business jets.

The job cuts could grow as high as 280, but it's understood around 60 workers in Belfast could be moved elsewhere in the company.

The bulk of the job losses will be temporary and contract workers.

It's the latest bad news for one of Northern Ireland's largest employers, after it cut 130 posts in February. It also axed 390 jobs in September last year.

Bombardier currently has a Belfast workforce of around 5,000 permanent staff and 1,000 contract workers.

DUP MP Gavin Robinson said the losses "will have an impact not just on east Belfast but the wider local area. This comes on the back of earlier job losses which were also from temporary or contract workers." Mr Robinson added: "Bombardier is east Belfast's biggest employer and I have already been speaking to the Enterprise Minister Jonathan Bell to discuss this announcement."

The cuts are part of Bombardier's axing of around 1,750 jobs across operations in Canada and Northern Ireland. About 1,000 of the lost jobs will be in Montreal, where Bombardier has its main operations, with 480 in Toronto.

Davy Thompson from the Unite union called the losses "the latest in a series of blows to the Northern Ireland manufacturing base" which amount to more than 2,000 across the sector in the last year.

"We are very disappointed by the scale of job losses associated with this announcement," he said.

"The job losses are likely to be concentrated in the 'complementary labour force', although the scale will mean that some 'core' staff may be affected."

Earlier this month, one of east Belfast's manufacturing stalwarts, Howden UK - the former Sirocco Engineering Works - announced it was closing with the loss of almost 100 jobs.

Judith Cochrane, Alliance MLA for East Belfast, said the "loss of so many jobs will have an impact on the local economy and a knock-on effect for secondary companies".

"Bombardier remains one of our most prominent employers and plays a vital role in the Northern Ireland economy," she said.

"They have given their commitment to their Northern Ireland operations and I will be seeking a meeting with their local management to see what politicians and the Assembly can do to provide further support to them."

A spokesman for Bombardier said as a "result of Bombardier business aircraft's announcement" the company had to "make reductions in our workforce levels in Belfast".

"Up to 280 of our workforce will be impacted, but we plan to mitigate this number through a range of measures, including transfers to other programmes and projects."

Bombardier saw its financial fortunes reverse last year, with losses of around £1bn, following its decision to suspend production of the Learjet 85.

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