One of Britain’s top trade union chiefs has warned that workers in Belfast are at risk of becoming the “collateral damage” in an increasingly “dirty row” between Boeing and Bombardier over market share.
Unite’s UK general secretary Len McCluskey said accusations by Boeing that Bombardier has benefitted from billions of pounds of UK government subsidies which had enabled it to sell aircraft at below the cost of production in the United States was “predatory behaviour”.
Mr McCluskey said on Tuesday that he plans to personally contact trade unions in Canada to ask them to put pressure on Boeing to meet top government officials to discuss the accusations, which could potentially threaten thousands of Bombardier jobs in Northern Ireland.
Bombardier has dismissed Boeing’s claim as “pure hypocrisy” and has accused its rival of attempting to “tilt the playing field in its favour”.
But Boeing’s accusations have seen the US government’s commerce department launch an anti-dumping and anti-subsidies investigation into Bombardier’s sales of its C Series aircraft in the US.
There are concerns this investigation could impact on Bombardier’s Northern Ireland operations which produces the wings for C Series aircraft.
According to Unite, 1,000 workers or around 25 per cent of Bombardier’s total workforce in the North are currently employed on the C Series production in Northern Ireland but if C Series sales perform as forecast this could rise to 60 per cent of jobs in four years’ time.
Earlier on Tuesday Bombardier warned again that Boeing’s claims “threaten thousands of aerospace jobs around the world, including thousands of UK and US jobs and billions of purchases from the many UK and US suppliers who build components for the C Series”.