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Trudeau leads backlash against Bombardier's fat cats

By John Mulgrew

Bombardier has faced protests outside its Montreal headquarters and criticism from Canada's Prime Minister following a pay rise for its top-earning executives in a year it cut 1,080 jobs in Northern Ireland.

Despite the plane maker receiving a $1bn bailout from the Quebec Government for its struggling CSeries jet and a £225m loan from the Canadian Government, the company's top bosses will see their pay and bonuses rise this year to $32.6m (£26m).

The move has sparked outrage among other staff.

Bombardier has since said it will defer 50% of the payments until 2020.

The firm employs 4,500 people in Northern Ireland building parts for the CSeries.

Canada's Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said he was not happy at the pay rise for the company's fat cats.

"We're obviously not pleased with the decision that Bombardier made around its remuneration for its executives," he told the Canadian parliament.

Bombardier boss Alain Bellemare said: "We didn't do a good job of communicating it.

"If you look at it at face value, I can understand why people were so angry, so unhappy."

Mr Trudeau said: "We believe in the long-term profitability and growth in our auto and aerospace sector.

"We know that investing in Bombardier is a way of ensuring good, long-term jobs.

"We respect the free market and the choices that companies will make, but we also have a responsibility to ensure that the investments we make with taxpayer dollars are leading to good jobs and growth."

Mr Bellemare said: "Over the past 75 years our fellow citizens have always been by our side.

"It is because of this deep relationship that we are sensitive to the public reaction to our executive compensation practices.

"To address these concerns, I've asked our board of directors to defer the payment of more than 50% of the total planned 2016 executive compensation for our six named executive officers to 2020."

The CSeries launched in 2015, more than two years late and around $2bn over budget. Orders were also lower than expected, but morale was boosted last April when Delta Airlines bought 125.

In Bombardier's latest accounts for 2016, the company's Northern Ireland business saw turnover fall from $919m (£740m) in 2015 to $871m (£702m) in 2016.

It also said it will continue to shift work away from Northern Ireland to keep cutting costs amid an "extremely challenging year".

The company says that, despite this, "excellent progress was made on the CSeries".

Hundreds of staff work on the wings and part of the fuselage for the CS100 and CS300 passenger jets.

However, it was hit by slow sales and was given the $1bn bailout by the Quebec administration in return for a 49.5% stake in the CSeries programme.

The bulk of Bombardier's revenue in 2016 came from Canada and the US.

Its average workforce in Northern Ireland last year stood at 4,558.

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