MP Gavin Robinson challenges Bombardier over decision to ban Union flag dice
Bombardier has been challenged to explain how it can publicly display the union flag over its premises in east Belfast but ban an employee from hanging fluffy car dice - bearing the same Union flag - privately in his car.
East Belfast MP Gavin Robinson said he wants the aerospace firm to justify its stance after it ordered the removal of the car accessory while the Queen's Island premises flies the Union flag on one of its main multi-storey buildings for all to see.
The challenge follows a row last week when an employee of the aviation giant was hauled before its human resources department and asked to remove a set of Union flag fluffy dice from his car following a complaint that it offended another worker.
The employee, thought to have been working for the company for many years, had the dice hanging from the rear view mirror of the vehicle, privately-owned and not a company car.
Meanwhile, on the roof of Bombardier's Queen's Island premises beside a flag bearing the company logo and the other the European flag, the national flag of the United Kingdom flies over the huge facility.
Last night Mr Robinson said he supported the firm's public display of the flag but said that its policy over employees' private property rights needed to be reassessed.
"Those of us who know the company, they do appropriately fly the Union flag over the facilities but it contrasts starkly with how this employee has been treated and the juxtaposition of straying into the private life of this man needs to be considered."
He said he had had fruitful meetings with the firm two weeks ago, over the company's position as a major employer and contributor to Northern Ireland's economy, when "there was no suggestion that this issue would come up: then this emerged".
"There are quite a number of international companies who have come into Northern Ireland and their policy is to fly the flag of the country they are resident in, but the rationale for the way in which they (Bombardier) have treated the employee and the way they dress their building now stands in stark contrast."
Mr Robinson said he hoped for a resolution of the issue, which he hoped would be "a recognition" that they had no right to tell employees what they could keep inside their own privately held cars.
"It will remain a matter for them and their employees but I think it was a mistake to stray into that territory," he concluded.
Bombardier was asked for comment but declined. However, following the incident last week a company spokeswoman said employees with "concerns or issues regarding the neutrality of their working environment" were encouraged to discuss them with their direct manager or the firm's equal opportunities manager.