Union voices concern as Bombardier sells tubing division putting 70 more jobs at risk
Around 70 jobs will be affected at aerospace firm Bombardier in east Belfast after the sale of its tubing centre to a French company, it has emerged.
Trade union Unite said the decision to sell the tubing centre, which has a sister site in Mirabelle in Canada, was the "latest incident of offshoring and outsourcing impacting jobs in Northern Ireland".
Other functions such as IT and finance have already been transferred out of Belfast by the Canadian-owned company, which earlier this year fought off US tariffs on its C Series jet, now the A220.
The tubing centre has been sold to French company Lauak, with the functions and roles such as fitters and welders transferred over the next 18 months.
Bombardier, which employs around 4,000 people in Northern Ireland, confirmed that up to 70 posts would be affected but that staff would be redeployed where possible. The company - formerly known as Short's - is headed in Belfast by Michael Ryan, president of aerostructures and engineering services.
A spokeswoman said: "Up to 70 Belfast employees are involved in this work but we will endeavour to retrain and redeploy them on other Bombardier programmes during the course of the 18-month transfer period. We regularly review our manpower requirements across the business and, where possible, these employees will be retrained and redeployed on other programmes during the 18-month transfer period.
"We do not expect any compulsory redundancies but, if required, we will consider offering voluntary redundancy packages during the transfer period."
Susan Fitzgerald, Unite regional coordinating officer, said workers were told this week that a decision had been made to sell the tubing centre.
"Despite talk that this sell off will raise revenue for investment in new projects, workers in Belfast see this as a further instance of management taking jobs and skills out of the Belfast site," she said. "This effective outsourcing of work done by fitters and welders in Belfast comes as the latest in a long line of offshoring and outsourcing of IT, finance and maintenance functions.
"Workers on the sites have been left wondering just where next will the axe fall. Once these skills go our fear is that they will never be replaced.
"Despite assurances by management of a shiny future from new products they are very thin on detail when it comes to retraining opportunities and recruitment."
The C Series - the wings of which are made in Belfast - was renamed the A220 earlier this year after Airbus bought a majority stake in the jet programme.