Belfast Telegraph

Northern Ireland job fears as Bombardier announces new savage cuts

By Margaret Canning

There are fears of job losses in Northern Ireland after Bombardier announced 5,000 positions would go in its global operations around the world.

Trade union Unite accused the company of a "fire sale" of assets after it also announced the sale of its Q Series aircraft programme, which includes the Q400 regional passenger jets used by airlines such as Flybe.

A number of the 4,000 staff in Northern Ireland work on the Q400 in east Belfast, while around a quarter work on making wings for the A220 passenger plane, now majority-owned by Airbus. Around 1,300 jobs have already gone from Bombardier in Northern Ireland over the last three years.

A spokeswoman for Bombardier in Belfast said yesterday: "Following Bombardier's announcement today, we will take the necessary time to evaluate what this means for our aerostructures and engineering services business. We will communicate with our employees in more detail over the coming weeks."

Pressed for more detail on the likely impact on the Belfast workforce, she said: "We won't speculate on how this global workforce reduction will impact our Belfast site. We will take the necessary time to evaluate what it means for our business."

DUP East Belfast MP Gavin Robinson said he was in contact with management in Belfast to discuss the potential impact.

He added: "Bombardier are a vital part of our local economy and obviously any announcement relating to job cuts will cause concerns. I continually engage with the company and have been encouraged by a renewed sense of dynamism within the Belfast operation."

The cuts were announced as the company reported a profit of $149m (£114m) in the third quarter of the year, compared to a loss of $100m in the same quarter last year.

Around 3,000 of the job losses are expected to hit Bombardier's operations at its base in Canada.

As well as selling its Q Series, it's also offloading its business aircraft's flight and technical training business.

Susan Fitzgerald, regional coordinating officer at trade union Unite, said yesterday's announcement was "a brutal blow" to the global workforce of Bombardier.

"Unite has sought assurances that none of these jobs will be going at any of the five sites here in Northern Ireland. As yet, we have no confirmation of what it this latest announcement will mean locally."

She added: "These jobs are to go despite the fact that the company is making even more profits than they were a year ago; this fire sale of assets and jobs is being driven to meet the expectations of the financial markets and Bombardier's workers are expected to pay the price.

"Unite will be engaging with our colleagues representing Bombardier workers under threat in other countries in order to coordinate a global trade union response to this latest announcement."

She added: "This announcement comes only two years since seven thousand jobs were cut globally. In the recent period in Northern Ireland we have witnessed the sell-off of the tubing and systems function, the outsourcing of IT, finance, plant engineering, canteens, facilities and security functions.

"The workers want to know just when will this company be satisfied?"

Belfast Telegraph

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