Belfast Telegraph

Bombardier set to cut almost 400 jobs in Belfast: Aerospace giant 'restructuring' workforce

By John Mulgrew

Bombardier is set to cut almost 400 jobs from its Belfast operations.

The aerospace giant will shed 300 temporary and contract staff, while up to 90 permanent workers face redundancy.

Job cuts were looming earlier this year as part of a global restructuring of the Canadian firm - which could shed 1,800 positions shed worldwide.

The firm currently employs around 6,000 people in Belfast

That makes it Northern Ireland's largest manufacturing company.

Formerly known as Shorts Brothers, the company is headquartered at Airport Road, has a manufacturing base less than a mile away and has divisions in Dunmurry, Newtownabbey and Newtownards.

The company has increased its workforce by some 1,200 staff in the past four years.

The firm said that after reviewing its staff requirements, the decision had been made to 'restructure' the Northern Ireland workforce.

A spokeswoman said it was "unfortunate to make these reductions and we deeply regret the impact this will have".

"We believe the new structure will allow us to be more flexible in responding to customers’ needs, and will enable us to further market our expertise in this field, thus generating new revenues and helping to secure our long-term future," she said.

Half of the 300 temporary employees who are affected work on the shop floor making the products.

Alliance MP for East Belfast, Naomi Long, expressed her regret and concern at the significant number of losses.

"My primary concern is with those who will lose their jobs in what will be a very stressful and uncertain time for them and their families," she said.

"Such a significant number of redundancies can also have wider effects on the local economy which ate harder to predict.

"While it will bring no comfort to those who will lose their jobs at Bombardier, the local management hope it will stabilise the workforce in the medium term."

The DUP's Robin Newton said the news was "very disappointing".

"The news today from Bombardier is very disappointing, particularly as the company stated their operations in Northern Ireland were viewed as a model for Aerostructures," he said.

"While the company has increased its staff by over 1,000 in recent years, any reduction in employment is concerning."

A spokeswoman for Bombardier said:

"We have reviewed our requirements in Belfast, with the aim of reducing costs whilst ensuring we maintain productivity and competitiveness.

"As a result, we regret to confirm that up to 90 Bombardier employee jobs in Northern Ireland are at risk of redundancy.

"The company will be lodging a formal HR1 redundancy notice with the Department for Employment and Learning, following which there will be a 30-day consultation period when we will explore a range of means to mitigate the number of potential compulsory redundancies."

Jackie Pollock, regional industrial officer for the Unite union that organises the overwhelming majority of company workers, expressed deep disappointment and requested a proactive response from Stormont politicians.

"This announcement highlights the inadequacy of existing employment protection, in particular for that afforded to agency workers who are making up more and more of the overall Northern Ireland labour force. There's a need for Stormont politicians to take action to improve job security protections for workers.

"The scale of the job losses associated with this announcement is a huge blow to the Belfast economy and will inevitably lead to more joblessness throughout the wider economy by reduced overall spending."

He said since 2008 output from Northern Ireland's manufacturing sector has shrunk by nine per cent, meaning many of those highly skilled workers who will lose their jobs will struggle to find employment.

"This decision reinforces the need for the Northern Ireland (ministerial) executive to initiate a substantial and wider economic investment strategy to address the range of serious economic challenges we face."

The jobs blow for Northern Ireland comes in addition to the 1,700 jobs earmarked for redundancy in the planemaker's US and Canadian plants in January 2014.

In July this year, Bombardier landed almost £1 billion worth of orders for jobs part-made in Belfast.

Bombardier has faced a series of delays in its work surrounding the new C-series jet project, which is an expansion into the 100-149 seat market.

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