Belfast Telegraph

Sombre mood in east Belfast as workers remain in the dark

BY REBECCA BLACK

The grey skies over Belfast yesterday afternoon matched the mood at Bombardier's plant as workers finished their shift.

They are the people who would suffer most if negotiations between world leaders and leaders in the aerospace industry fail to take off.

As news hit the headlines yesterday that Prime Minister Theresa May has phoned US President Donald Trump directly over a legal challenge to financial support given to Bombardier from both the Canadian and UK governments, workers in Belfast making their way home appeared to be determined to keep their heads down.

Scores of people streamed out of the Belfast complex at 3.30pm when most finish their shifts, but the majority remained tight-lipped while their future employment hangs in the balance.

Bombardier is one of the biggest employers in the city with around 4,500 workers across Northern Ireland. The majority of them are based at the firm's high-tech operation in east Belfast which, among other work, produces the wings and parts of the fuselage for Bombardier's C Series medium-range passenger jets.

Of those leaving the plant on foot, most declined to speak to the Belfast Telegraph waving us away apologetically with a downward glance to the ground as they passed.

Other workers declined to make any comment, explaining that they had been instructed not to speak to the media.

However, one member of the workforce said that Bombardier had not briefed them on what was happening nor what they might expect to happen.

"All we know is what we have seen on the news this morning," he said.

"It's not really being talked about on the shop floor, to be honest, as we are not sure what is happening or if we will be affected."

Mrs May and her Canadian counterpart, Justin Trudeau, are due to discuss the dispute at a meeting in Ottawa on Monday, September 18.

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