Belfast Telegraph

Bombardier workforce reeling as Aerospace firm axes 390 jobs

Agency workers hit hardest in blow that could cost economy £10m

By Lindsay Fergus

Almost one in four global job losses being inflicted by Canadian aerospace giant Bombardier will be made at its Belfast base.

Of the 1,800 lay-offs, up to 390 people here will lose their jobs across Bombardier's six sites.

It has been estimated the jobs blow will cost the Northern Ireland economy in excess of £10m excluding welfare costs.

The news comes on the back of a turbulent year for Bombardier's Montreal-based parent company. It has been forced to make changes because its financial results were not as strong as expected.

However, the company's Northern Ireland operation – the third biggest employer here – remains a success story.

Employment and Learning Minister Dr Stephen Farry expressed his regret at the job losses announced yesterday.

He said: "Bombardier Aerospace remains a strong and growing business which has increased employment here by 1,200 over the last four years.

"I remain optimistic that through this organisational restructure, the organisation will be able to be more flexible in responding to its customers' needs – thereby helping to secure its long-term-future here in Northern Ireland."

Minister Farry also vowed to contact members of the Advanced Manufacturing and Engineering Services Group, which he chairs, to try to secure employment for the "highly skilled individuals" being made redundant.

Enterprise, Trade and Investment Minister Arlene Foster said she hoped that a 30-day consultation period would mitigate the number of potential compulsory redundancies.

She said: "Bombardier continues to make a significant contribution to the Northern Ireland economy, with an extensive supply chain of about 800 companies in the UK and Ireland, spending in excess of £200m annually.

"Invest Northern Ireland will continue to work with Bombardier as it continues to invest in significant research and development programmes."

Invest NI has not provided any financial support towards job creation for quite some time, and there are therefore no clawback implications for Bombardier as a result of the announcement.

The lay-offs of up to 90 Bombardier employees and up to 300 contractors, temporary workers and members of the firm's complementary labour force, follow an announcement in July by Bombardier of a global organisational restructure.

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

"We deeply regret the impact this will have on those affected and their families."

Unite said the announcement highlighted the inadequacy of existing employment protections, particularly for agency workers

Jackie Pollock, regional industrial officer for the union, added: "Management have indicated they wish to deliver these job losses through voluntary redundancies, although it this is clearly not the case in regard to the 300 agency staff who will lose their jobs.

"This announcement highlights the adequacy 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."

Belfast Telegraph