Bombardier workers urge UK MPs to safeguard jobs

Unite trade union says 4,500 jobs could be under threat in the long term

Members of Britain’s Unite trade union protest outside the Houses of Parliament in support of Bombardier workers in London. Photograph: Peter Nicholls/Reuters

Members of Britain’s Unite trade union protest outside the Houses of Parliament in support of Bombardier workers in London. Photograph: Peter Nicholls/Reuters

 

Bombardier workers from Belfast are hoping British MPs will take notice of a giant banner outside of the House of Commons in London today urging them to help safeguard jobs in Northern Ireland.

The trade union Unite, together with workers from Belfast, have organised the banner to help publicise that 4,500 jobs could be under threat long term in the North as a result of plans by the United States Department of Commerce to slap new tariffs on Bombardier aircraft sold in the US.

The commerce department wants to impose new taxes totalling 300 per cent on every Bombardier CSeries aircraft sold in the US.

It follows a bitter trade dispute between Bombardier and rival Boeing who has alleged that the Canadian group benefitted from government subsidies which enabled it to sell its aircraft at below cost in the US.

The US Department of Commerce sided with Boeing in the row after it investigated the claims, which have been refuted by Bombardier.

The Canadian group’s Belfast’s operations design, manufacture and assemble the advanced composite wings for the C Series aircraft programme and the commerce department’s decision has sparked concerns that it could impact on Bombardier’s workforce in Northern Ireland.

Bombardier has previously warned that the aircraft programme “is critical to the long-term future” of its Northern Ireland division.

More than 1,000 people, 25 per cent of the workforce, in Belfast are currently directly employed in the manufacture of wings for the CSeries planes.

But Unite has said that within four years’ time up to 60 per cent of the workforce could be involved in the CSeries production if sales take off.

Trade union chiefs have accused the UK Government of “sitting on its hands” in relation to the Bombardier dispute and have called on it to “defend UK manufacturing jobs against the bullying behaviour of Boeing”.

Representatives from Bombardier’s Belfast operations and trade unions are expected to meet with the UK’s business secretary Greg Clarke in London later on Wednesday.

It comes as the British Prime Minister again raised the issue of Bombardier with the US President during a phone call on Tuesday night.

According to a Downing Street spokesperson they “ discussed the importance of the jobs provided by the Bombardier factory to the people and economy of Northern Ireland”.

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