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Relief as Bombardier wins US trade dispute, securing Belfast jobs


Workers attend the massive Unite Union rally at the factory in east Belfast

Workers attend the massive Unite Union rally at the factory in east Belfast

Pic by Peter Morrison

Workers attend the massive Unite Union rally at the factory in east Belfast

There was jubilation last night after a US industrial court unanimously backed plane manufacturer Bombardier against US rivals Boeing in a long running trade dispute.

Bombardier won its case against United States proposals to impose tariffs of 292% on its imports to America - a result which could safeguard thousands of jobs in Belfast.

The US International Trade Commission (ITC) ruled that rival manufacturer Boeing did not suffer injury from Atlanta-based Delta Airlines' order of Bombardier's C Series passenger jets.

Boeing has not yet indicated whether it will lodge an appeal against the ruling.

Decisions made by the USITC (and by the Department of Commerce) under this law can be appealed to the Court of International Trade in New York City; that decision can be further appealed to the Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit.

The C Series wings are produced in Belfast, and workers reacted with jubilation to the news.

Bombardier said in a statement: "Today's decision is a victory for innovation, competition, and the rule of law. It is also a victory for US airlines and the US travelling public. The C Series is the most innovative and efficient new aircraft in a generation. Its development and production represent thousands of jobs in the United States, Canada, and the United Kingdom."

Politicians from across the spectrum welcomed the ruling.

Prime Minister Teresa May said: "I welcome this decision, which is good news for British industry. Bombardier and its innovative workforce play a vital role in the Northern Ireland economy," while NI Secretary of State Karen Bradley tweeted: "Today's unanimous decision in favour of Bombardier is great news for the company, the workforce, their families and NI - a really bright future ahead."

DUP Arlene Foster tweeted: "Delighted for all the workers in Bombardier. Thank you to all those who helped in any way fighting this case. It was a team effort... The C-Series is now ready for take-off."

East Belfast MP Gavin Robinson praised the 'tireless' Bombardier workforce in Belfast.

"This is fantastic news for Bombardier and particularly for the firm's 4,000 workers in Northern Ireland and the many more who form part of the supply chain here," he said.

"This has been a very difficult time for those staff who faced an uncertain future. Even in recent days there some pessimism had grown, but Bombardier's greatest strength here in Belfast is the quality of those workers and the product they deliver. Right from the outset management have worked tirelessly to secure the best possible outcome and I would pay tribute to their fortitude throughout this process."

Alliance leader and East Belfast MLA Naomi Long said the ruling was great news for the city and Northern Ireland.

"We welcome this ruling and that the ITC has rightly accepted Bombardier's position, recognising the assistance given to the company by the Canadian Government for the C-Series wings, was entirely legitimate," she said.

"It is a tribute to the workers and trade unions, and all those who applied pressure throughout this period. I hope it is the end of the matter, which has been highly disruptive to Bombardier and extremely stressful for local employees of the company and those working in the supply chain."

Ulster Unionist MLA Andy Allen welcomed the ruling as "common sense".

"This ruling is testament to the unwavering campaign by all, It will come as a huge relief to Bombardier and the thousands of workers and their families."

Sinn Fein's northern leader Michelle O'Neill said she hoped the decision meant that the matter was now closed.

"I have worked with the company and union representatives over the past year to resist the economic threat posed to jobs at the Bombardier Belfast operation, and by extension to our local economy. I hope that the matter is now closed and that the company can secure the future of the C-Series, and by extension the workforce in their new partnership with Airbus."

Trade union leaders were also celebrating but urged caution.

TUC General Secretary Frances O'Grady said: "This is great news for thousands of Bombardier workers, as well as workers in their supply chain. But we must not be complacent. The Trump administration has shown it wants to shut down Britain's ability to support good jobs in strategic industries."

Unite assistant general secretary Steve Turner said: "Bombardier workers in Northern Ireland and throughout the supply chain in UK will be breathing a huge sigh of relief that the International Trade Commission has seen through Boeing's baseless complaint. The C Series is a world beating aircraft made by world class workers. There can be no backsliding from the US government on this decision," he said.

Belfast Telegraph