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600 job losses at Bombardier Belfast 'body blow' to NI economy

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Bombardier's base in Belfast

Bombardier's base in Belfast

Bombardier's base in Belfast

The news that 600 jobs are set to go at Bombardier's Belfast site has been described as a "body blow" to Northern Ireland's economy by deputy First Minister Michelle O'Neill.

The aerospace giant has confirmed 600 jobs at its Belfast site including 200 temporary roles are at risk as the industry responds to “interruptions and challenges” from Covid-19.

The move affects the jobs of nearly 20% of its 3,500 workforce, including 400 members of its core staff and 200 people in what it calls its 'complementary labour force'.

The 400 core roles will be a risk of redundancy through the formal redundancy process though the company confirmed that the other 200 will be "gradually released" from their roles over the coming months.

First Minister Arlene Foster said the job losses would be felt "not just in the homes of those affected", but in the community and across wider society.

The DUP leader also expressed concerns for smaller manufacturers who are part of the company's local supply chain.

She said the Covid-19 pandemic had disrupted the economy and the aerospace industry was now dealing with the "aftershocks".

Mrs Foster said Economy Minister Diane Dodds and Invest NI had been in close contact with the company and were considering how to address the supply chain issues.

The First Minister said the Executive was aware of the need to support employees and they would be offered free career support and guidance.

Ms O'Neill said the Executive would engage with workers through their representatives at Unite.

The Economy Minister said she would work with those impacted and acknowledged it was "devastating news".

"I understand the 90-day redundancy will go into action today and as this progresses of course my department will organise help to those who are impacted both in terms of any other employment opportunities or retraining and up-skilling," Mrs Dodds said.

In a separate announcement last week, the Canadian-owned company announced 2,500 job losses across its the global workforce.

A spokeswoman said on Thursday: “Bombardier Aviation announced last week that it would adjust its workforce to align with current market conditions reflecting the extraordinary industry interruptions and challenges caused by COVID-19.

“We have now reviewed our requirements in Belfast for all of our aircraft programmes and regret to confirm that we must adjust our core workforce levels downwards by around 400 to align with market demand for the remainder of this year and through 2021.”

The firm said it’s now starting a 90-day consultation period which will involve exploring “opportunities to mitigate the number of redundancies”.

She added: “We deeply regret the impact this will have on our workforce and their families, but it is crucial that we resize our business in line with market realities in these unprecedented circumstances.”

The news follows 500 redundancies last week at Thompson Aero Seating, which makes aircraft seats at its factory in Portadown.

Belfast Telegraph