Northern Ireland

Bombardier to cut more than 1,000 jobs in NI

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Media captionBombardier Vice-President Michael Ryan said Northern Ireland will still play a key role in the firm's global operation

The aerospace firm Bombardier has said it will cut more than 1,000 jobs from its Northern Ireland operation.

The company said that 580 jobs will go this year with up to 500 more next year. That is equivalent to around 20% of its workforce in Northern Ireland.

It also announced that 270 jobs are to go at its trains business, UK for Rail, which employs 3,500 people at several sites.

Bombardier is cutting 7,000 jobs across its global workforce.

The company has been under severe financial pressure as cost overruns on its new C Series jet have drained cash out of the company.

In a statement the firm said: "We deeply regret the impact this will have on our workforce and their families, but it is crucial that we right-size our business in line with market realities"

Image caption Bombardier operates four locations in Northern Ireland - in east Belfast, Newtownabbey, Dunmurry and Newtownards

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.

"But I have to say that the technologies we're investing in, the value-added process, the higher value programmes we're looking at, are a key part of Belfast's future going forward and will continue to be."

One Bombardier employee, who asked not to be named, said the atmosphere at the firm on Thursday was "grim to say the least".

"It's hard to work in these circumstances," he said.

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Media captionBBC Ireland Correspondent Chris Buckler spoke to staff outside the firm's Belfast premises

"Everyone's worried. Given what's happened [at other Northern Ireland firms] over the past 12 months, we know that nothing is guaranteed."

The engineer said the news will leave many highly specialised workers out of a job with no prospect of finding other employment.

"As we saw with the shipyard, once those skills are gone, they're gone," he said.

"At the end of the day, we can't all answer phones in Northern Ireland. That seems to be the only kind of work available at the minute and it's not for everyone.

"Most of these workers will have to go on the dole or move away. It's sad."

In a statement the trade union Unite, said: "This jobs loss announcement is the latest, cruel blow to Northern Ireland's manufacturing sector.

"The scale of the losses reflect the severe market conditions being experienced by the group, which has led to over 7000 job losses globally.

"The Northern Ireland Executive needs to redouble their efforts and secure alternative employment for those highly skilled workers who will be made redundant. Invest NI must now commit themselves fully to proactively seeking foreign investment in manufacturing."

Downturn in business jet market

The C Series programme received $1bn (almost £700m) from the state government in Quebec last year.

The firm has also been hit by a downturn in the business jet market.

Image copyright Pacemaker
Image caption Bombardier is cutting 7,000 jobs across its global workforce

Bombardier is the largest manufacturing employer in Northern Ireland and supports hundreds more jobs through its supply chains.

Of the 580 jobs being cut this year 380 come from the firm's "complementary labour force".

That part of the workforce is made up of temporary and contract workers and tends to fluctuate depending on demand.

Announcing its annual results Bombardier said turnover fell 9.5% in the year to December to $18.2bn (£12.7bn).

Pre tax profits dropped 40% to $554m (£388m).

The company said Air Canada has ordered 75 of its CSeries 300 jets.

Pay Cuts

Late last year the Northern Ireland workforce was asked to accept pay cuts and other changes to terms and conditions with the firm saying it was "in serious financial crisis".

However the proposal was overwhelmingly rejected in a ballot of union members.

The Enterprise Minister Jonathan Bell has expressed his "deep regret" at the move.

The impact of this decision will be hard felt in Northern Ireland

Jonathan Bell, Enterprise Minister

He said: "First and foremost, my thoughts are with the workers and their families as they absorb today's news.

"The company has taken this decision to rationalise its workforce across all its sites in order to ensure its viability for the future."

He added that the firm had received £75m of NI Executive assistance between 2002 and 2015.

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