Union leaders are warning jobs could be “crushed” after the United States commerce department confirmed plans to impose duties on imports of Bombardier C Series commercial jets.
In its final determination, the department said it will impose duties of 292%.
Unite called on the US International Trade Commission (ITC) to set aside the decision when it meets in February to discuss whether Boeing has suffered injury or loss as a result of Delta Airlines’ order of C Series jets.
If the ITC finds in Boeing’s favour the tariffs will be applied.
Describing Wednesday’s commerce department decision as “nakedly political”, Unite warned that in addition to Northern Ireland jobs, as many as 22,000 US jobs could be under threat if the US ITC decided to impose tariffs.
Assistant general secretary Steve Turner said: “Today’s decision by the US Commerce Department on C Series tariffs is nakedly political and has the potential to crush jobs, not only in Northern Ireland but in the US too.
“More than 50% of C Series components are sourced from the US, where the supply chain sustains 22,000 US jobs. The economic impact of these tariffs would be felt in communities on both sides of the Atlantic.
“Boeing does not produce an aircraft in the same class as Bombardier’s C Series and didn’t even bid for the Delta contract it is complaining about, which leaves its complaint totally without merit.
“Boeing is using its meritless complaint as cover to close the US market, which is one of the biggest in the world, to new entrants such as Bombardier’s C Series aircraft.”
BREAKING: US Commerce Department confirms ‘job crushing’ tariffs. Unite to take fight to save Bombardier jobs to US International Trade Commission. Reaction 👇 pic.twitter.com/DbqPP1nTta— Unite the union: join a union (@unitetheunion) December 20, 2017
He added: “We would urge the US International Trade Commission to do the right thing for fair trade and jobs by finding against Boeing and setting aside the commerce department’s determination when it makes its final decision in the New Year.
“The UK government, despite handing out defence contracts to Boeing amounting to more than £4.6 billion, have provided no answers to the threat hanging over workers.
“Ministers have not even hinted at challenging future contracts with Boeing. When we asked what action they had taken to defend jobs, we were lamely told that Theresa May had rang Donald Trump.
“The UK government has to start forcefully backing Bombardier workers.”
Unite regional officer for Bombardier in Northern Ireland, Susan Fitzgerald, said: “This decision poses a devastating risk for the Northern Ireland economy.
“Tariffs on the scale proposed by the US Commerce Department in the world’s largest airline market, threaten to undermine the long-term economics of Bombardier’s presence in Northern Ireland.
“Not only is it a threat to the economy, it poses a significant threat to stability in Northern Ireland. Unite is very conscious that workplaces are the largest integrated environments in our society.”
She added: “We cannot lose thousands more jobs on top of what’s already gone and expect hopelessness and instability not to feature.
“There is no need for one single job loss, in fact, the potential exists for the creation of jobs in Northern Ireland, the US, Canada and elsewhere.
“The C Series represents a tremendous opportunity for further growth in the sector.”
Mike Nadolski, Bombardier’s Vice President Communications and Public Affairs, said evidence presented by Boeing earlier this week at the US International Trade Commission demonstrated an “unfounded assault” on airlines, the flying public, and the US aerospace industry.
He added: “That has been true since the start of the investigation, and recent developments make it even clearer, particularly the Bombardier and Airbus partnership, which will include the construction of a new U.S.manufacturing facility in Alabama.
“This facility will provide US airlines with a US-built plane thereby eliminating any possibility of harm due to imports.
“Unfortunately, the Commerce Department decision is divorced from this reality and ignores long-standing business practices in the aerospace industry, including launch pricing and the financing of multibillion dollar aircraft programs.
“Moreover, we are deeply disappointed that the Commerce Department did not take this opportunity to rectify its past errors.
BREAKING: US Commerce Department decision to recommend tariffs of totalling almost 300% on Bombardier C Series poses significant risk to Northern Ireland economy #BackBombardierJobs pic.twitter.com/UZLuOt17zA— Unite the union: join a union (@unitetheunion) December 20, 2017
“We remain confident that at the end of the process, the United States International Trade Commission will reach the right conclusion, which is that the C Series benefits the US aerospace industry, US airlines, and the US flying public.
“The fact is that the C Series simply does not threaten Boeing.”
A Government spokesman said: “This decision by the Department of Commerce is disappointing and damages the global aerospace industry. Though this judgment was widely anticipated given the initial action also found in favour of Boeing, we fundamentally disagree that this determination is justified by the facts.
“The next step is for the US International Trade Commission to decide on the impact, if any. We will continue to work alongside our counterparts in Northern Ireland and Canada, Bombardier and Airbus to resolve this matter.”