Bombardier ‘suspends’ compulsory redundancies in Belfast

Aerospace group will reinstate 32 workers in ‘tremendous win for workforce’, says union

Industry analysts are not ruling out the possibility of global aviation giants Airbus or Boeing making a bid for Bombardier Belfast. Photograph: Getty

Industry analysts are not ruling out the possibility of global aviation giants Airbus or Boeing making a bid for Bombardier Belfast. Photograph: Getty

 

Aerospace group Bombardier is to “suspend” compulsory redundancies at its Northern Ireland plants, according to trade union leaders, and will also reinstate 32 workers who had lost their jobs as part of the Canadian group’s ongoing global restructuring programme.

Both Unite and the GMB union had been scheduled to ballot Bombardier workers on Monday about potential strike action over the group’s redundancy proposals for its Northern Ireland operations.

Susan Fitzgerald, Unite’s regional co-ordinating officer, said unions had agreed not to go to ahead with the ballot because Bombardier bosses had conceded to union demands to end compulsory redundancies in the North.

A spokeswoman from Bombardier said: “We are happy to have come to a resolution with our union, and we are pleased to confirm that we will continue to engage in dialogue with them on our competitiveness.”

Ms Fitzgerald said the “entire Bombardier workforce” would welcome the move by one of the North’s largest private sector employers.

“This significant reversal means that not only are compulsory redundancies now off the table, but those who were targeted in the last round will now be offered their jobs back.

“This is great news for those workers and their families. It reflects the determination of the workforce to challenge the ongoing erosion of jobs and skills across the company sites in Northern Ireland,” Ms Fitzgerald said.

Compulsory redundancies

Earlier this month Unite had voiced its concerns over Bombardier’s decision to impose compulsory redundancies and had also warned that the Canadian group was seeking up to 40 voluntary redundancies from its Northern Ireland workforce as part of its ongoing global restructuring programme.

Bombardier wants to axe 5,000 jobs globally, which will result in around 500 job losses in the North. That represents more than 10 per cent of the total workforce.

According to Ms Fitzgerald, Bombardier’s employment numbers in Northern Ireland have halved since 2014. Unite estimates that the total workforce is currently in the region of 3,600 people.

Bombardier has consistently maintained that it is committed to working with its Northern Ireland workforce and with unions on its “transformation progress”. But it has also repeatedly stressed that it needs “to continue to cut costs and improve the efficiency of our operations to help ensure our long-term competitiveness”.

Fresh talks

The assistant general secretary of Unite, Steve Turner, believes Bombardier’s decision to offer workers who had been made redundant in Northern Ireland “their old jobs back” is a “tremendous win for the entire workforce” in the North.

Fresh talks are now scheduled to begin between Bombardier and union leaders about their operations in Northern Ireland.

But Mr Turner has warned that, despite Bombardier’s change of heart over compulsory redundancies, serious challenges remain ahead of the new negotiations.

“We now need to see delivery on the promises of growth that we have heard so many times from management. We need to see investment for jobs and growth and the ending of all off-shoring of work,” Mr Turner said.