Belfast Telegraph

Parties unite in concern for workers and economy after Bombardier Belfast announcement

DUP leader Arlene Foster
DUP leader Arlene Foster
Sinn Fein deputy Michelle O'Neill

By Our Political Staff

Political leaders have voiced concern about the future for thousands of workers following the announcement by Bombardier that it plans to sell its aerostructures business.

DUP leader Arlene Foster said Bombardier was "an integral part" of the Northern Ireland economy.

She added: "The partnership with Airbus represented a fresh opportunity for Bombardier and there have been a number of significant orders received since that announcement.

"The company themselves have recognised the significant increase in work, but the announcement of an intention to sell will be unsettling for the staff.

"It is welcome that there have been no workforce implications in relation to this announcement and both staff and the company can be assured of any support locally or in London which might assist them at this time."

Sinn Fein deputy Michelle O'Neill said yesterday's developments were "hugely concerning" for the affected workers and the wider manufacturing industry and economy.

"Bombardier has faced a number of difficulties over recent years and there have been several major job loss announcements over that time," she added.

"The economic uncertainty caused by Brexit has also impacted severely on the manufacturing sector and wider economy here.

"However, the scale of today's announcement will still come as a shock to those affected and to our local economy."

SDLP leader Colum Eastwood said: "This announcement will cause significant uncertainty for workers in Bombardier sites across Belfast and across the north.

"It is critical that those most affected by this announcement are offered certainty about their long-term security in the time ahead and supported throughout any transition process when a buyer is identified."

Alliance Party leader and East Belfast MLA Naomi Long said everything possible must be done to ensure a suitable buyer is found.

"The focus now has to be on finding a buyer committed to maintaining and developing manufacturing on the Belfast site to secure not just Bombardier jobs but those reliant on being part of the company's supply chain across Northern Ireland," she said.

The Ulster Unionist Party's finance spokesman Steve Aiken said: "The news is a matter of considerable concern, not least for the 4,000 employees and their families."

He added: "It must be hoped that all the aerostructures divisions here in Northern Ireland can be retained by any new purchaser and that manufacturing and jobs can be maintained."

CBI NI director Angela McGowan said: "Bombardier's Belfast workforce will understandably be looking for reassurances today about their long-term future - addressing their concerns must be a priority.

"The stand-out reputation of Bombardier's Belfast operations augers well for attracting the right buyer.

"What's clear is that this decision to sell is no reflection on the excellent performance of the Belfast plant employees. 

"Bombardier are committed to finding a buyer that will continue to invest in the Belfast-based business over the long term and support the Northern Irish economy."

Paul Everitt, chief executive of ADS, the trade organisation representing the UK aerospace, defence, security and space industries, said Bombardier has a critical role in supplying components for major aircraft models.

He added: "The announcement made today will be unsettling for the workforce in the short term and it will be important for Government, industry and the trades unions to work together to help secure the long-term ownership of the business.

"The skills, experience and capability in the Belfast operation means there is every reason to be confident of a positive long-term future for the business and its supply chain in Northern Ireland."

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