Bombardier to cut almost 500 jobs in the North
Canadian aerospace group reviewing operations around the world
Bombardier workers in Belfast protesting at a US International Trade Commission decision earlier this year to impose tariffs on Bombardier aircraft in the US. Photograph: PA Wire
Bombardier is to cut nearly 500 jobs in Belfast, with fears growing for the group’s remaining workforce in the North.
The aerospace group said the company had “reviewed” its Belfast operations as part of “a company-wide” restructuring programme.
Earlier this month Bombardier announced its intention to reduce its global workforce by 5,000 as it focused on “optimising production, management processes and reducing indirect costs”.
On Wednesday Bombardier confirmed that 490 of those jobs would go in the North, where it employs more than 4,000.
In a statement Bombardier Belfast said: “We acknowledge the impact this will have on our workforce and their families, and we continue to explore opportunities to help mitigate the number of compulsory redundancies.
“However, we need to continue to cut costs and improve the efficiency of our operations to help ensure our long-term competitiveness.”
Jackie Pollock, regional secretary for Ireland of the trade union Unite, said Bombardier’s large-scale job cuts in the North exceeded the union’s “worst fears”.
He said the redundancies represented a “heavy blow” for the Northern economy, and could mean that a “disproportionate” number of Bombardier’s planned 5,000 global cuts were to be implemented in the North.
He said there were also fears that this could mark the start of another round of savage job cuts by Bombardier in Belfast because the Canadian aerospace giant had not ruled out the possibility of further outsourcing or a reduction in the number of agency and contract workers on its books in the North.
“The jobs under threat range across all skillsets and occupations, and are exclusive of job losses among agency workers/ sub-contractors and the possible future outsourcing of so-called ‘non-core activities’.
“Although these jobs will not go until February or March, this announcement is a cruel blow for the Bombardier workforce in the mouth of Christmas.”
Business and industry leaders in the North expressed their disappointment on Wednesday over the extent of the Bombardier redundancy programme.
Stephen Kelly, chief executive of Manufacturing NI, said Bombardier jobs were “high-value, manufacturing positions which are critical to the North’s economy”.
Earlier this year Bombardier’s Northern Ireland operations reported a pretax loss of £40 million (€44.9 m) for 2017, which the company acknowledged had been an “extremely challenging” year.
The Canadian aerospace group has also repeatedly warned of the negative impact that Brexit could have on its Northern Ireland operations.
This week Bombardier declared its support for the UK’s draft EU withdrawal agreement, describing it as “important step forward”. It said that “Bombardier will welcome a withdrawal agreement and transition arrangement that provides assurances for frictionless trade as the United Kingdom exits the European Union”.
Mr Kelly said the latest Bombardier redundancy programme in the North highlighted just how “vulnerable” manufacturing jobs were.
“It illustrates why we don’t need any disruption to current business conditions for manufacturers, and why members of parliament in the UK need to support the draft agreement between the UK and the EU.
“We need to ensure we have the best environment in place to support manufacturers and encourage new investors to Northern Ireland, and that will not be helped by crashing out of the EU with no deal.”