Engineering firm Bombardier announced 7,000 job cuts worldwide, with 1,080 in Northern Ireland yesterday. The Canadian-based company said that 3,800 jobs would go across three of its aviation arms and 3,200 more in ground transport. Northern Irish subsidiary Shorts, based in Belfast for almost 70 years, will see 580 job cuts this year and another 500 in 2017 — one in five of its 5,500-strong workforce. Bombardier is the largest manufacturing employer in Northern Ireland and supports hundreds more jobs through its supply chains.
The firm claimed that 380 of this year’s lay-offs would come from its “complementary labour force” of temporary and contract workers. “This decision by Bombardier is a real catastrophe for the working-class communities where these affected workers live,” said Irish Congress of Trade Unions assistant general secretary Peter Bunting. He said that remaining job options for the sacked workers would be “more precarious, worse paid and with fewer prospects.”
Bombardier has struggled following the failure of its C-Series jet airliner venture (test plane pictured), which has failed to compete well with Boeing and Airbus planes. Bombardier Vice-President Michael Ryan said:
"The whole global aerospace world is looking at how they can optimise their costbase and that includes going to what we would call lower cost countries.
"If we want to compete being in a global market place then we need to take advantage of that where it's relevant."
Unite regional co-ordinating officer Davy Thompson called on Northern Irish ministers to “redouble their efforts and secure alternative employment for those highly skilled workers.” Unite Belfast Shorts branch secretary Joe Bowers pointed out that Bombardier had received billions from British and Northern Irish taxpayers since it bought out Shorts in 1989. £75m of NI Executive assistance alone was given between 2002 and 2015. More recently 1bn Canadian dollars (£505m) was given by the province of Quebec.
“Bombardier expects risk to be covered by public money to sustain share value and dividends,” he said.