Bombardier seeking compulsory redundancies at sites in North

Canadian aerospace group has started making ’necessary adjustments’ to reduce its workforce in Northern Ireland by nearly 500 people

Bombardier has confirmed it has started "making the necessary adjustments" to reduce its workforce in Northern Ireland by nearly 500 people as part of the Canadian group's ongoing global restructuring programme.

The Canadian aerospace giant announced last November that it planned to axe 5,000 jobs across its organisation within 18 months, including 490 job losses at its Belfast operation.

A spokeswoman for Bombardier in Belfast confirmed that it has started the process of reducing its Northern Ireland workforce against the countdown to the UK’s scheduled exit from the EU and with Bombardier’s repeated warnings that the UK must “find a resolution that works for UK businesses”.

“Following the global workforce reduction announced by Bombardier in November and our subsequent review of employee requirements in Belfast, we are now making the necessary adjustments.


“We acknowledge the impact 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,” the spokeswoman said.

Earlier this week Bombardier was one of more than 50 businesses in the North who wrote to British MPs urging them to take a no deal Brexit off the table and to warn them that Northern Irleand businesses are “hugely exposed to the economic fall out” if the UK crashes out of the EU.

According to the trade union Unite, Bombardiers’ workforce in Northern Ireland is now just over 3,600.

The union said this is “the lowest it has ever been” and that just five years ago it was almost twice that figure.


It claims the Canadian group is preparing to implement up to 100 compulsory redundancies while there are “large number” of its workforce who have applied for voluntary redundancies.

Susan Fitzgerald, Unite's regional coordinating officer, said the Northern Ireland workforce is facing compulsory redundancies while Bombardier's Canadian workforce are "being 'reclassified' rather than let go".

Ms Fitzgerald said: “While we are opposed to the loss of any jobs, it is crazy to force workers out the door when others for various reasons are looking to go, there is no basis to compulsory redundancies.

“Last week management chose to reject the shop stewards’ representations and have initiated plans for between 20 and 30 compulsory redundancies across functions and other areas. The company are now raising the prospect of up to 100 additional compulsory redundancies across roles at Northern Ireland sites.”

The union is urging Bombardier to provide “upskilling and training” in the North for its workforce in order to help avoid compulsory redundancies.

Francess McDonnell

Francess McDonnell

Francess McDonnell is a contributor to The Irish Times specialising in business