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Reaction: Devastating blow as Canadian-owned aerospace giant Bombardier cuts 1,080 jobs in Northern Ireland

By John Mulgrew

Published 17/02/2016

Bombardier is cutting 1,080 jobs in Northern Ireland
Bombardier is cutting 1,080 jobs in Northern Ireland

The loss of more than 1,000 jobs at Bombardier in Northern Ireland has been branded a "devastating blow".


First Minister Arlene Foster and Deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness said "news that staff at Bombardier have received today is a devastating development for many of the workers, their families and the wider manufacturing industry in Northern Ireland".

"While the company has made it clear their decision is as a result of inescapable global economic factors, the impact is very real for those affected, and for the wider economy.

"Bombardier has made it clear their decision aims to protect the long-term future of the business. The Executive will make every effort to mitigate the impact of the job losses and we will work closely with Invest NI and with the Enterprise and Employment and Learning Ministers to ensure all possible avenues are explored."

Enterprise Minister Jonathan Bell and Minister for Employment and Learning, Dr Stephen Farry have expressed their regret at today’s announcement.

Jonathan Bell said: “The impact of this decision will be hard felt in Northern Ireland, in particular by those personally affected. First and foremost, my thoughts are with the workers and their families as they absorb today’s news.

“The company has taken this decision to rationalise its workforce across all its sites in order to ensure its viability for the future.

“Between 2002 and 2015, Invest NI offered £75m of assistance to Bombardier, including £21m for the CSeries, in support of investment commitments totalling £844.5m. While Bombardier has said there is nothing we can do to reverse this decision, we will continue to work closely with the company and to explore other ways to support their drive for greater efficiencies.

“While today’s news is deeply disappointing, Bombardier Inc has made it clear that the decision has been taken to safeguard the company’s long term future globally and here in Northern Ireland.

“I want to assure the affected staff that, together with Invest NI, the Department for Employment and Learning, and colleagues in the entire Northern Ireland Executive, we will do all that is possible to limit the impact of the redundancies and help with possible retraining.”

"The company has reaffirmed its commitment to the CSeries project and Belfast’s critical role in its delivery. Confirmation today that Air Canada has signed up for 75 CS300 aircraft is a positive development for the CSeries project as a whole and I hope that in the long term as more orders are received, that we will see employment levels increase once again.”

East Belfast Alliance MLA Chris Lyttle said:

"This is a serious development and my thoughts are foremost with the workers and families affected by this news. It is important to say that the skills and productivity of Bombardier Northern Ireland workers are first class and this decision appears to be based primarily on factors affecting the company on a global basis.

"My Alliance colleague and Employment Minister Stephen Farry MLA has met with Bombardier and will be offering the full support of his Department and the Executive to the company and workers in terms of redundancy advice and guidance for training and employment opportunities.

"I will seek assurances from the Executive that it will do all that it can to assist workers affected by this news and to support the long-term competitiveness of Bombardier.

"Bombardier has a record of delivery and retains a key role in the delivery of the CSeries, a programme that has received a significant order from Air Canada today, and is set to enter into service this year, which I hope will give confidence to the market for further orders and help ensure the company not only survives this blow but thrives long into the future."

Employment and Learning Minister, Dr Stephen Farry said: “The job losses announced today by Bombardier are extremely regrettable, not only for those who have lost their jobs, but also for the families, communities and the economy as a whole.

“My department will be proactive in determining what steps we can take to assist employees facing redundancy to provide them with advice and guidance regarding re-skilling, training and alternative employment opportunities. Officials will work closely with all those involved to ensure that the best advice, help and support are offered to all those affected employees at the appropriate time.

"My department will also be offering redundancy clinics to the company and their employees. The Redundancy Advice Service works in partnership with a range of agencies including the Further Education Colleges and HMRC to provide advice and support on a range of issues.

DUP MP for East Belfast MP Gavin Robinson said:

"Today’s announcement is devastating for the Bombardier workforce and their families. My thoughts are with all of those affected and who now face an uncertain future. Those workers must now get any help and support they require to find alternative employment or retraining.

"Bombardier still remains an absolutely vital part of the Northern Ireland economy however and I would hope reassurance can be given of the viability of the East Belfast site going forward. The company have said that redundancies worldwide are necessary to safeguard the company’s future and presumably enable growth.

"The announcement today that Air Canada have ordered 75 CSeries jets, for delivery by 2019 is a positive sign that it may be possible to mitigate these job losses to some degree. It is obviously vital that every effort is made to secure further orders and I have asked to meet senior management of the company to see how government at a national and local level can assist in this and ensure the C-series viability going forward.

"I will work with both the Executive and the UK Government to do all possible to deliver future growth in both output and employment. As an initial response to today’s announcement I will be meeting the Enterprise Minister Jonathan Bell later this afternoon and have arranged to speak to Anna Soubry MP, the Minister with responsibility for manufacturing at Westminster."

"I hope that through positive engagement the job losses announced today might be mitigated and that Bombardier can continue to be an important part of the fabric of the city”.

Ukip MLA David McNarry said:

"The job losses at bombardier is devastating news for the workers and their families. The First Minister and the Enterprise Minister should have their tickets booked now to fly straight to Bombardier Head Office and see exactly what this companies intentions are in Northern Ireland."


Stephen Kelly, chief executive of Manufacturing NI said the news "is a terrible blow on an individual basis for the 580 workers and contractors and an equally tough blow for the Northern Ireland economy".

"Bombardier represents around 10% of our total exports and almost 50% of the manufacturing jobs in Belfast as well as a deeply embedded supply chain which stretches from the North West to North Down.  These are well paid, highly skilled advanced manufacturing roles in line with the current economic strategy.

"This is undoubtedly a difficult period for the Bombardier leadership, management and staff but we should remain confident that Bombardier will continue to play a leading role in our economy as demonstrated by the news that Air Canada has ordered 75 of the C Series aircraft.  Hopefully this signals the beginning of the commercial success of this innovative and well received aircraft and the jobs lost today can be quickly replaced.

"The Bombardier news come on the back of major announcements with JTI Gallaher and Michelin.  One percent of our manufacturers employ almost half of all those who work in manufacturing and 49% of turnover.  We need these large manufacturers to sustain the wider manufacturing and economic eco-system.  This news should be responded by a commitment to quickly introduce a manufacturing strategy and take action on the cost of doing business to improve our competitiveness and confirming NI as a great place to do business for local and FDI manufacturers."

Davy Thompson of the Unite union said the job loss announcement "is the latest, cruel blow to Northern Ireland’s manufacturing sector".

"While the scale of the losses reflect the severe market conditions being experienced by the group which has led to over seven thousand job losses globally, heavy manufacturers across the region continue to face challenging times.

"The Northern Ireland Executive needs to redouble their efforts and secure alternative employment for those highly skilled workers who will be made redundant. Invest NI must now commit themselves fully to proactively seeking foreign investment in manufacturing.

"We are calling for all parties to publicly support the call for a Manufacturing Strategy and establish an Investment Taskforce for the sector bringing together all stakeholders, including Unite.

"Unite will continue to liaise with Bombardier management to secure jobs in Belfast and defend our members’ terms and conditions during this difficult period."

And Alastair Hamilton, chief executive of Invest NI, which has invested more than £800m in Bombardier, said "we have listened to the company’s reasoning for this difficult decision and, while it is hard to hear, we understand why it has had to make this choice".

"Today’s news will be very upsetting to those working for the company, and their families," he said.

"We will work closely with the Department for Employment and Learning to provide whatever support possible to help those that will be affected by the job losses, be that through redeployment into other companies, retraining or exploring the possibility of setting up their own business.

"While we were fully aware that Bombardier intended to make cost reductions across its global business, the news of 7,000 jobs, 1,080 in Northern Ireland, is much greater than anticipated.

"While Bombardier feels this ‘right-sizing’ is essential for the business market as it stands today, its announcement of a new order of 75 CS300 aircraft by Air Canada is a positive development and I have every confidence that its commitment to the CSeries project will see the company’s presence in Belfast rebuild for the future."

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