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Minister pledges to fight for Bombardier jobs in Belfast

Published 21/10/2016

The firm has announced more than 7,000 job losses worldwide
The firm has announced more than 7,000 job losses worldwide

Stormont's economy minister has pledged to fight to save jobs at Bombardier in Belfast after the company announced plans for 7,500 global redundancies.

The posts will be cut in 2018 as part of the Canadian plane and train manufacturer's ongoing restructuring of its worldwide operations.

It is not yet clear where the axe will fall.

As well as a huge aircraft manufacturing plant in Belfast, Bombardier also has operations at a number of sites in England, including a train making plant in Derby.

The multinational has been under financial pressure having invested large sums in its new C Series jet, which is crucial to many jobs in Belfast.

The 5,000-strong workforce in the city was already in the process of shedding 1,000 jobs as part of the first wave of redundancies outlined in what is a five-year restructuring plan.

Bombardier Belfast said it would be evaluating its local operations in the wake of the announcement.

It said it would communicate with the workforce when the evaluation is complete.

"We are not in a position to elaborate further at this time," said a spokeswoman from the company.

Stormont economy minister Simon Hamilton said the news would have come as a "great shock" to the Northern Ireland workforce.

"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," he said.

"I will do everything I can to fight to save as many Bombardier jobs in Northern Ireland as possible."

Announcing the latest phase of the restructuring programme at the company's headquarters in Montreal, Alain Bellemare, president and chief executive officer, 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 organisation to compete and win in the future."

Trade union Unite said it would strive to minimise job losses in Belfast.

Regional co-ordinating officer Davy Thompson 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 10 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."

Mr Thompson called on the Stormont Executive to do more to defend the region's manufacturing sector.

Gavin Robinson, MP for the East Belfast constituency where the Bombardier factory is based, said: "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."

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

The GMB union said it intended to engage with the Stormont executive with the aim of bolstering the under-pressure manufacturing sector.

Michael Mulholland, GMB regional officer, said: "Our intention at this stage will be to engage with the executive at Stormont once details are clearer, with a view to putting support measures in place and look at ways they can bolster what is becoming a sector under severe pressure.

"The GMB will work to minimise the impact on our members."

In relation to Bombardier's Derby operations, Mick Cash, leader of the Rail, Maritime and Transport (RMT) union, said: "RMT is keeping a close watch on any potential impact of today's Bombardier announcement on the train-building operations in Derby.

"We have been in contact with the company today and we are seeking firm assurances from them.

"The union will, of course, continue to campaign to defend and expand train-building in the UK."

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