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Bombardier aerospace manufacturer to axe over 1,000 jobs

Published 17/02/2016

The site of aircraft manufacturer Bombardier in Belfast
The site of aircraft manufacturer Bombardier in Belfast

Bombardier is to cut its workforce in Northern Ireland by more than 1,000 over the next two years.

The Canadian-owned aerospace manufacturer said 580 jobs would be lost this year with a further 500 to go during 2017.

The move is part of an overall efficiency drive which will see 7,000 staff being axed globally.

A statement said: "We deeply regret the impact this will have on our workforce and their families, but it is crucial that we right-size our business in line with market realities.

"We will continue to evaluate all opportunities to significantly reduce our costs, improve our competitiveness, and boost our profitability, whilst focusing on the unique capabilities that will help shape and secure our future."

Bombardier is one of Northern Ireland's largest employers and supports hundreds of other jobs through its suppliers.

Unions have described the announcement as another cruel blow to the manufacturing sector, still reeling from news that factories such as JTI Gallahers and Michelin are to close.

Davy Thompson, of the Unite union, said: "While the scale of the losses reflect the severe market conditions being experienced by the group which has led to over 7,000 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.

"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."

ICTU assistant general secretary Peter Bunting described the decision as a "real catastrophe" for the working class communities where affected workers live.

He said: "In East Belfast, in Newtownards, in Dunmurry and Newtownabbey, the places where bombardier is based, families will today be seriously examining their futures.

"These are good, well-paid and skilled jobs for people whose options in the private sector we have are going to be limited to work that is more precarious, worse paid and with fewer prospects.

"For those families, today's decision means that hope is diminished. That is the awful reality of redundancy situations."

Bombardier's annual results recorded a significant drop in revenue during the year to December 2015 - down from 20.1 million dollars to 18.2 million dollars (£14m to £12.7m).

There was also a slump in pre tax profits - down by 40% to 554 million dollars (£388m) .

However, the company has secured a new order for 75 of the C-series 300 jets from Air Canada.

The cuts will affect 200 Bombardier employees and 380 agency workers, 60 of whom left last month.

The company said a formal redundancy notice would be lodged with the Department for Employment and Learning which would be followed by a 90-day consultation period.

Northern Ireland Secretary Theresa Villiers described the announcement as "bitterly disappointing".

She said: "Bombardier is a giant of Northern Ireland engineering and these job losses will be keenly felt. I am in urgent contact with the UK Business Minister and Northern Ireland's Enterprise Minister Jonathan Bell over what immediate support might be available."

MP Gavin Robinson, whose East Belfast constituency includes the Bombardier plant, said the news was "devastating".

Sinn Fein's Mairtin O Muilleoir called for urgent action to protect the region's manufacturing industry.

Alastair Hamilton, CEO of Invest Northern Ireland, said the scale of the cuts was greater than expected.

He said: "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.

"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."

Meanwhile, the Rail, Maritime and Transport union said it was "criminal" that 270 jobs were also being cut at the firm's train-building arm in Derby.

General secretary Mick Cash said: "With a desperate shortage of rail rolling stock in Britain it is criminal that jobs are being axed at the UK's last train-building workshop, Bombardier in Derby.

"There is plenty of work for this plant to be doing if the Government had the will to intervene. Contracts for train building are still being shipped overseas, risking the very future of train building in the nation that gave the railways to the world.

"RMT will be writing to ministers demanding that they step in to end this cull of skilled train-building jobs and secure a long-term future for the Derby plant."

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