Belfast Telegraph

Fears over further job cuts at Bombardier after plane maker brings forward 95 staff losses

By John Mulgrew

There are concerns Bombardier could shed more jobs this year after it brought forward 95 planned redundancies.

The Belfast plane maker revealed it's shedding 95 workers this year. It announced 1,080 job losses across the business in February, spread across two years.

But it's now making more of the cuts this year than initially proposed.

One worker at the Canadian-owned firm said the decision was causing "nervousness" among the staff, and it was a "concern" that further losses could follow.

It's understood employees in Belfast learned of the fast-tracked job cuts yesterday morning.

According to Davy Thompson of the Unite union, more than 700 jobs are to go this year. Bombardier had originally earmarked 580 cuts in 2016.

There are now fresh calls from both the Ulster Unionists and the SDLP for Stormont to introduce a dedicated 'manufacturing strategy', something which was rejected by Economy Minister Simon Hamilton.

Ulster Unionist economy spokesman, Steve Aiken MLA, said: "In terms of what Stormont should be doing to help, we need the Executive to finally appreciate the need to have a stand-alone manufacturing strategy for Northern Ireland."

Bombardier's Belfast workforce produces the wings and part of the fuselage for its flagship CSeries passenger planes.

In April it secured a deal to sell 75 of the CS100 jets to Delta Airlines, with the potential for a further 50 orders.

Bombardier is Northern Ireland's largest manufacturer, with more than 5,000 staff.

Former top Bombardier man, Martin J Craigs, said: "This remains a tough time for the CSeries in a weak and uncertain airline market post Brexit and pre-US election.

"These factors are global and beyond Bombardier Belfast control," Mr Craigs said.

"However, the competences and hi-tech manufacturing capacity on Queen's Island and at newly formed supply groups like Causeway Aero are in long-term demand and Invest NI are right to wholeheartedly support the aerospace sector for quality job retention and growth."

A spokeswoman for Bombardier said after "having reviewed our requirements, unfortunately we need to pull forward to this year more of the workforce reductions that were expected to take place during 2017.

"We now expect up to another 95 employees will leave the company this year instead of next, in addition to the ongoing reduction of contractors and agency workers.

"We appreciate that this is a very difficult time for our workforce and their families, and we are doing all we can to mitigate the numbers of compulsory redundancies.

"However, we must continue to evaluate every opportunity to significantly reduce our costs and improve our competitiveness, in order to help secure our long-term future."

SDLP MLA and the party's economy spokesperson, Sinead Bradley, reiterated calls for a strategy to tackle the problems facing manufacturing here.

"This is the second time this year that Bombardier have brought forward the planned redundancies and I am seeking an urgent meeting with senior management at the company to determine what their future intentions are," she said.

Ulster Unionist MLA Andy Allen said the Executive and Invest NI must "take ownership of the situation as it affects Northern Ireland, do all in their power to help minimise the impact of this announcement and show it understands the need to have a long-term plan for the economy - particularly manufacturing".

Belfast Telegraph