Bombardier sells CRJ regional jet programme to Mitsubishi for $550m
Around 350 people are currently employed on the CRJ programme in the North
A Bombardier CRJ series jet. The union Unite says it is worried the acquisition of the CRJ programme is a move by Mitsubishi to buy up a competitor “to increase market share”
Bombardier Belfast is “reviewing” what impact the sale of the CRJ regional jet programme by its Canadian parent to Mitsubishi Heavy Industries may have on its Northern Ireland operations. Bombardier is selling the jet programme to Mitsubishi for $550 million (€483m).
The Belfast facility designed and manufactures the complete centre fuselage for three of the regional aircraft family: the CRJ700, CRJ900 and CRJ1000 jets, and around 350 people are currently employed on the CRJ programme in the North.
A spokeswoman for Bombardier Belfast said the organisation would review what impact the sale could have for Bombardier’s sites in Northern Ireland and Morocco because both are “suppliers” to the CRJ programme.
“We will evaluate opportunities in other programmes to mitigate any potential impact on our workforce,” she added.
Last month Bombardier, which has a core workforce of 3,600 people in the North, put its entire Northern Ireland and Morocco operations up for sale.
At the time Alain Bellemare, president and chief executive of Bombardier Inc, said they were “great businesses with tremendous capabilities”.
Both union and industry leaders in the North believe the best option for Bombardier Belfast is to be “sold as one lot”.
However, on Tuesday union leaders in Northern Ireland said the sale of the CRJ programme to Mitsubishi would immediately raise fresh concerns for the “long term security” of the 350 people that work on the aircraft programme in Belfast.
The GMB union said there were questions to be answered about future work, while Unite called on Bombardier to “provide guarantees” to its Northern Ireland workforce.
Susan Fitzgerald, the union Unite’s regional co-ordinating officer, said there was no “recourse” to either trade unions or management in Belfast before details of the sale were announced publicly.
“While both Bombardier corporate management and Mitsubishi have been talking up the possible benefits of such a deal to the markets for weeks now, no assurances have been provided to Bombardier workers in Northern Ireland.
“What is more, the fact that no one in the Northern Ireland operations was informed about this by Bombardier global corporate management will result in a wave of anger and concern among the workforce.”
Unite said it was worried that the acquisition of the CRJ programme was a move by Mitsubishi to simply buy up a competitor “to increase market share”.
“Unite are calling on Bombardier to guarantee this sale will be tied to a cast-iron commitment to the livelihoods of those employed in CRJ production and, as we have previously called for, the UK government must be proactive in defence of these vital jobs and skills,” Ms Fitzgerald said.