Theresa May 'will do all she can' to protect Bombardier workers, insists Foster
DUP leader Arlene Foster has pledged that the Prime Minister will do everything possible to resolve the trade dispute which threatens Bombardier jobs in Northern Ireland.
Theresa May yesterday held talks on the issue with Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau in Ottawa and said she will raise it again with US President Donald Trump when she meets him later this week.
Canadian aerospace company Bombardier employs around 4,500 people in Northern Ireland. Rival firm Boeing claims Bombardier received subsidies allowing it to sell its CSeries planes at below-market prices.
The US Department of Commerce is expected to announce a decision on whether to impose duties against Bombardier next week.
Mrs Foster last night said: "We welcome the intervention by the Prime Minister. (The) Government at all levels have been ready to do whatever they can both in public and private to safeguard the Belfast Bombardier operation." Describing the firm as "of critical importance to the Northern Ireland economy", she said: "We will continue to use all avenues available to stand up for the local workforce. The CSeries is one of the most innovative aircrafts on the market. We will work tirelessly to assist the company to enter new markets and ensure the jobs in Belfast are protected as well as the hugely significant supply chain".
Speaking after meeting Mr Trudeau in Ottawa, Mrs May said she would be raising the dispute with Mr Trump later this week.
"I will be impressing on him the significance of Bombardier to the United Kingdom and particularly to jobs in Northern Ireland," she said. "We have discussed today how we can work together and to see a resolution of this situation which, from my point of view, I want to see a resolution that protects those jobs."
The Prime Minister has already spoken about the case in a phone call with Mr Trump last week, in which she raised concerns about the impact that a possible financial penalty for the Bombardier would have on jobs in Northern Ireland.
Mr Trudeau said Canada was looking to replace its fighter jet fleet, with Boeing's Super Hornet aircraft considered a potential replacement.
But he added: "We won't do business with a company that's busy trying to sue us and put our aerospace workers out of business."
Hitting out at Boeing's "predatory behaviour", Unite general secretary Len McCluskey said: "At base it is ordinary workers who risk being the collateral damage in what is an increasingly dirty row between two giant corporations over market share."
The union's regional secretary for Ireland, Jimmy Kelly, urged the DUP and Sinn Fein to "make the most of their leverage and extensive networks of support globally to defend Bombardier jobs in Belfast".