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Shock as Thompson Aero Seating lays off 350 workers in Portadown


Thompson Aero’s Vantage seating

Thompson Aero’s Vantage seating

Thompson Aero’s Vantage seating

There was shock in Portadown on Friday after major local employer Thompson Aero Seating paid off 350 contract workers.

Chinese-owned Thompson Aero Seating makes seating for the aircraft industry.

Workers took to social media to voice their anger.

Ulster Unionist MLA Doug Beattie said the news was a blow to the area, adding that the firm had been “on life support” because of the hit taken by the air commercial aircraft industry during the coronavirus pandemic.

“The layoffs are a direct result of Covid-19,” he said.

“It’s a blow to the area — but it’s not surprising.”

The Upper Bann MLA said he thought the company was now in survival mode,

“These are worrying times. Covid-19 is reaching into every corner of our society.”

Upper Bann Sinn Fein MLA John O’Dowd said the firm “could and should” have accessed the UK government’s Furlough scheme for salary protection during the virus emergency.

“They now face huge uncertainty when the company could have secured 80% of their wages.

“I call on management at Thompson’s, even at this eleventh hour, to release these workers under the Furlough scheme rather than laying them off,” the MLA said.

DUP MP Carla Lockhart said: "This is a devastating blow for the workers affected, for their families and for the local economy. First and foremost my thoughts are with them.

"This is an extremely difficult time for business. The impact of COVID-19 is impacting on all aspects of our economy. Undoubtedly the aviation industry has felt the pain more acutely than most and thus has contributed to the decision to let these workers go.

"I have spoken to management and asked them to explore even at this late stage if anything can be done to save some or all of these jobs. Thompson Aerospace are a large employer and it is sad to see that so many workers have lost their job.

"I have urged them to place these employees on furlough rather than making them redundant as we will emerge from this crisis eventually.

"When speaking with Senior Management at the company I outlined the many concerns of the remaining workers concerning COVID-19 and ask for their to be direct engagement with the employees regarding safety measures and social distancing.

"I will continue to liaise with them to ensure that they adhere to the Government guidelines. At this time of great concern for people’s health and well-being it is important that people feel safe in their work environment.”

The firm has sites at Portadown, Carn, and Banbridge.

Its parent company is the China Aviation Industry Corporation

In 2019 the company reported a drastic slump in profits, making a £27.7m loss in 2018.

The company could not be reached for comment after the news broke on Friday afternoon.

Belfast Telegraph