Belfast Telegraph

UK union chief Len McCluskey to liaise with Canadian unions over Bombardier jobs

The general secretary of union Unite Len McCluskey has pledged to engage with unions in Canada in a push to protect the jobs of Bombardier's Belfast workforce.

The statement on Monday comes as UK Prime Minister Theresa May meets with Canadian leader Justin Trudeau, with the pair expected to discuss the trade dispute that could lead to job losses in Belfast.

Bombardier is Northern Ireland's largest manufacturing employer, and the Canadian company is currently entangled in a dispute with rival company Boeing - which has made a complaint to the US Trade Commission about alleged anti-competitive practices.

Boeing has claimed that Bombardier is in receipt of illegal subsidies that allow them to produce their CSeries passenger plane for major US airline Delta for less than it costs to build.

Mr McCluskey said that Boeing was engaged in "predatory behaviour" and that it was "ordinary workers who risk being the collateral damage in what is an increasingly dirty row between two giant corporations over market share".

"My union stands in full solidarity with the workforce in Belfast. Personally I will be contacting our sister unions in Canada to ask for their assistance in pressing Boeing to meet with the Canadian government on these very serious matters," he said.

Calls were made by Unite's regional secretary for Ireland Jimmy Kelly for Northern Ireland's two largest political parties to use their influence overseas to secure the jobs of Bombardier's Belfast workers.

"The DUP have a ‘confidence and supply' arrangement with the Tory government – at the very least that government should now move to review existing Boeing contracts in light of their destructive behaviour," he said.

"Sinn Fein has influence on Capitol Hill – the US politicians must be shown the impact an adverse decision by the Department of Commerce would have on the Northern Ireland economy, an economy which continues to struggle with the legacy of conflict, underinvestment and dislocation as well as the potential threats arising from Brexit."

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