Belfast Telegraph

Unions will ballot Bombardier staff for strike action over redundancies

Michael Ryan
Michael Ryan
Ryan McAleer

By Ryan McAleer

Bombardier has said it will continue to cut costs at its Belfast plant as unions prepare to ballot staff for fresh strike action over the Canadian firm's approach to redundancies.

In November the aerospace manufacturer, led in Belfast by Michael Ryan (right), announced plans to cut 490 full-time workers, equivalent to 10% of its workforce in east Belfast. It followed Bombardier's announcement that it would shed 5,000 jobs globally.

But unions are unhappy with the number of compulsory lay-offs.

Unite said its representatives have been forwarding proposals for workers willing to sign up for voluntary redundancy packages.

The union said that just days after announcing up to 40 voluntary redundancies, Bombardier has announced a further 30-35 compulsory redundancies.

Unite said it has agreed a consultative ballot of the workforce with GMB union representatives, which will take place on April 29.

Unite regional co-ordinating officer Susan Fitzgerald said that Bombardier had reached "a nadir" for its Belfast workforce, which she said it had now halved since 2014.

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She described a mood of "sadness and indignation" among staff and issued a direct challenge to the Canadian manufacturer's corporate management in Montreal.

"We cannot sit back and watch as Bombardier goes the same way as Belfast shipbuilding, with job cuts ongoing until the very sustainability of operations is at risk," she said.

"This workforce will not go down easily. This workforce has key skills covering R&D, right through to design and production; if this is lost it won't be replaced.

"Cutting back on jobs and skills in Northern Ireland is not a strategy for growth, however the financial markets may view it. Instead of cutting back, Bombardier bosses must invest and bring back employment to Northern Ireland."

Bombardier said the company would continue to work with staff and trade unions on their "transformation progress".

"We acknowledge the impact on our workforce and their families and we continue to explore opportunities to help mitigate the number of compulsory redundancies," it added.

"A significant number of Belfast employees have already accepted voluntary packages.

"However, we need to continue to cut costs and improve the efficiency of our operations to help ensure our long-term competitiveness."

Belfast Telegraph