Belfast Telegraph

Anger of Bombardier staff in Belfast: 'Bringing up kids while struggling to pay bills is a nightmare'

By Allan Preston

Bombardier employees in Belfast have reacted angrily to the news that the aerospace company is to cut more than 1,000 jobs across Northern Ireland.

Staff have told the Belfast Telegraph that they had only heard the news of the redundancies through the media.

A memo had been sent to workers about the Canadian firm's overall staff cuts, but most had no idea how Belfast would be hit.

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One worker said staff had expected some form of announcement.

Outside the east Belfast Bombardier factory yesterday afternoon, most of the workers coming and going quickly made their way past reporters and declined to speak.

A number of passing drivers blew their horns in a show of support.

One man stopped briefly to say he was "devastated" and commented: "If I were to tell you the truth I would be sacked. We've had no support from the shop floor."

When another was asked for a comment, he simply replied: "Sorry son, you'll get us the sack."

Across east Belfast, the shockwaves of the job losses were keenly felt by many in the community. Valerie Duff, who manages the Waasika charity shop on the Holywood Road, said she feared the knock-on effect from the job losses.

"It's really sad that this is happening. Bombardier has been a lifeline here for quite a while," she said. "It's the livelihood of families in east Belfast that I feel for, not just for the people losing their jobs."

Jim from east Belfast said he understood what the Bombardier workers would be feeling.

"I got laid off there about two-and-a-half years ago and I know what they're going through," he said. "It's not a great thing. Especially when you have mortgages and children. I know what it's like, two-and-a-half years I've been trying to get a job and no chance. I was laid off after my employer hired cheaper contractors. That's just business I suppose, but it can bring you down."

Mark Warwick, manager of Warwick's butchers on the Holywood Road, said he hoped there would be help for those affected.

"I imagine there's quite a few of my customers that would have somebody employed at the plant there," he said.

"Certainly you'd like to see people get all the help they can in the short term."

Leslie Crothers, who was working on road repairs in east Belfast yesterday, said he was saddened by the news. "Well it's just one big firm after another, that's the way it seems to be going at the moment," he said. "Hopefully they can do something on the hill to help the people that have lost the jobs."

Grandmother Hazel Campbell, who had worked as a stitcher in an east Belfast shirt factory after leaving school in the 1970s, said the area has been ravaged by job cuts.

"It's devastating, the place has been hit badly enough already," she said.

"Bringing children up now with a mortgage and worrying about paying your bills, it's an absolute nightmare, awful."

She continued: "I worked on the Beersbridge Road, in the factory that manufactured shirts. It's gone, Harland and Wolff's mainly gone, that just tore the life and soul out of the community.

"There weren't as many people signing on as there are now. I don't judge people, it's the government's fault. East Belfast used to be somewhere to be proud of."

Christopher Reid, who was working as a joiner in the area yesterday, said: "It seems to be getting worse, you hear about jobs leaving Northern Ireland all the time. A thousand jobs are going to go, that's a thousand families who will have to look elsewhere. There doesn't seem to be any loyalty or compromise from these big companies."

At the Skainos Centre, manager Gary Robb said they could offer help to those facing redundancy.

"It's very sad news for the area," he said.

"Skainos Centre and East Belfast Mission will do whatever we can to support any families affected by it. We have a programme called Stepping Stone which gives people advice when they're faced with redundancy. Families will be worried but there is support available. We would encourage families to come down to see what's on offer."

Belfast Telegraph

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