Belfast Telegraph

Bombardier cutting 60 agency jobs in Northern Ireland

By John Mulgrew

Bombardier has announced it is cutting around 60 temporary jobs here.

The Canadian-owned firm is letting workers go from its "complementary labour force".

A spokeswoman for the company said: "Our manpower situation is kept under constant review.

"We have reviewed our latest requirements based on current customer demand and, as a result, we will be making adjustments to the composition of our complementary labour force, who work alongside permanent employees.

"We have informed the provider of our complementary labour force that we need to release approximately 60 people from particular assignments with us. "

Bombardier's east Belfast operation is trying to cut costs by a fifth over the next two years.

But staff rejected a two-year pay freeze for the firm's 5,500 workforce, along with the working week being extended to 37 hours for 2016 and 2017.

The latest losses in manufacturing "highlights the scale of the ongoing challenges facing the sector", according to Davy Thompson of the Unite union.

"These job losses would be another blow for the Northern Ireland manufacturing sector, Mr Thompson added.

"They come on the back of significant job loss announcements elsewhere across Northern Ireland at the end of last year.

"Not enough is being done to ensure that the jobs currently being lost in this sector are replaced with jobs of a similar standing."

East Belfast Ulster Unionist councillor Sonia Copeland said there needed to be assurances from Enterprise Minister Jonathan Bell "about what he will be doing to ensure that this is not a sign of things to come at Bombardier.

"We need to see the Executive acting to improve job security," she added. "We cannot afford to continue to lose skilled workers from our labour force."

On Friday Mr Bell and Michael Ryan, Vice-President and General Manager of Bombardier met to discuss the job losses.

The minister said: "The news on Thursday that Bombardier will be releasing staff from a number of operational areas across the company will mean a difficult start to the New Year for all those involved.

"Although this was a hard decision it has been made as a result of reduced customer demand on certain aircraft programmes and the necessity to adjust production. Bombardier’s Complementary Labour Force forms part of a wider employment stability agreement with its trade unions.

"Bombardier remains a major driver in the Northern Ireland economy and is internationally recognised for its technological excellence and innovation. Both Invest Northern Ireland and I have been working with the company in order to provide assistance and support moving forward.

"Through Invest Northern Ireland I have maintained regular contact with Bombardier’s senior management and the agency continues to support the company across a number of areas."

In May last year, it was revealed Bombardier was cutting around 220 jobs, following the loss of 130 posts in February. It also axed 390 positions in September 2014.

Bombardier's production of wings for the long-overdue CSeries is Northern Ireland's biggest-ever inward investment programme, worth £520m.

Last year, the company received a $1bn (£660m) bailout from the Quebec regional government. It is seeking a further $1bn (£660m) from the new Canadian federal government.

Bombardier currently has 243 orders for the CSeries, substantially short of its target of 300.

While Belfast workers are engaged on the wings for the CSeries, the Belfast Telegraph also revealed that the workforce here has already produced between 15 and 20 fuselage mid-sections for the model.

It is understood that some work for the middle section of the CS100 and CS300 moved from Bombardier's Chinese partner, Shenyang Aircraft Corporation, to Belfast.

Around 150 staff have been working on the sections since the end of 2011.

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