There has been an exceptionally unified and strong reaction across the political spectrum in Northern Ireland to the announcement that Bombardier are planning to cut up to 1,000 jobs.
The underlying reason behind the cuts appears to be pressure on the company’s finances caused by budget overspends on its new C Series jet, with 7,000 jobs due to go worldwide.
1,000 Jobs to Go
Bombardier is one of the biggest employers in Northern Ireland, and has said that 580 jobs will be lost this year, with another 550 next year. This means that 1 in 5 of its workforce in the province will be made redundant.
First Minister Arlene Foster and Deputy First Minister Martin McGuiness said that the news was devastating, for the workers, their families and for Northern Ireland manufacturing as a whole. They pledged to try and mitigate the damage by working closely with Invest NI and with those ministers responsible for enterprise, learning and employment.
Also responding to the news, the Enterprise Minister Jonathan Bell and the Employment Minister Stephen Farry both commented on the impact not only on employees who had lost their jobs, but on their families, communities and the wider economy. Mr. Farry promised that his department would work to support those facing redundancy by providing advice on re-skilling and training opportunities, as well as offering information on other possible employment. As a longstanding recruitment agent in Belfast, www.lynnrecruitment.co.uk shares that commitment.
Theresa Villiers, Secretary of State for Northern Ireland, called the news bitterly disappointing, but pointed out that Bombardier was still committed to the C Series manufactured in Belfast and to Belfast itself as a manufacturing hub.
Unite regional co-ordinating officer Davy Thompson acknowledged that Bombardier was facing very difficult market conditions globally, and said that all heavy manufacturing was going through a challenging period. However he stressed that the Northern Ireland Executive needed to work even harder to find alternative jobs.
Invest Northern Ireland chief executive Alastair Hamilton commented that while the job loss figure was larger than expected, he was confident the company had a future. The DUP, Sinn Féin, the Ulster Unionists and the SDLP all expressed their hopes that the company could overcome its present difficulties to ensure a secure future for Belfast workers at the plant.