Belfast Telegraph

James Brokenshire vows to continue fighting for Bombardier solution

By John Mulgrew

Bombardier's thousands of Belfast workers remain concerned after a meeting with Northern Ireland Secretary James Brokenshire as they await another major decision on a make-or-break US deal for its C Series jets.

Belfast boss Michael Ryan met Mr Brokenshire, along with Unite trade union members, to discuss the concerns of the workforce.

Last week's US government decision could scupper a multi-billion pound deal with Delta for Bombardier's narrow-bodied C Series jets, and was described as "unsettling for companies and their employees across the aerospace sector in Northern Ireland".

There are fears that the US commerce department's proposed tariff of almost 220% on Bombardier's C Series aircraft could threaten jobs here.

That follows a legal challenge by US rival Boeing, which has now erupted into a transatlantic trade row involving the Prime Minister and US President Donald Trump.

Davy Thompson of Unite said the next big decision for Bombardier will be on Thursday, when it learns whether the US government believes Boeing's claim over aircraft 'dumping' - selling the planes at a cut-price or below cost.

He said the atmosphere among workers "is one of concern" and that Bombardier did not expect to be dealt such a hefty tariff of almost 220%.

Paul Everitt, chief executive of aerospace group ADS, also told the Belfast Telegraph that "there is no doubt that any support Bombardier has received in the UK is fully compliant with World Trade Organisation rules".

Meanwhile, yesterday Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn stepped up the pressure on Theresa May to intervene in the trade dispute.

In a letter to the Prime Minister, he urged her to join with Canadian premier Justin Trudeau in summoning the head of Boeing to an "urgent summit" to demand the US aerospace giant drops its claim against Bombardier.

Following a meeting in Belfast yesterday, Mr Brokenshire said "we will continue to work with the senior management at Bombardier, the trade unions and the workforce as well as with the Canadian and US Governments to find a resolution".

"Bombardier jobs are absolutely vital to the Northern Ireland economy," he added.

"The visit to meet Bombardier NI chief executive Michael Ryan provides assurance on the UK Government's continuing commitment and efforts, to protect jobs and the livelihoods of so many people across Northern Ireland and discuss how we can continue to work together to resolve this very serious issue."

Mr Everitt said the preliminary ruling was "... extremely disappointing, as well as unsettling for companies and their employees".

Belfast Telegraph