Fears for Newtownabbey jobs as Bombardier announces 7,500 cuts worldwide

Bombardier's Church Road site. PACEMAKER BELFAST.
Photo Colm Lenaghan/Pacemaker Press
Bombardier's Church Road site. PACEMAKER BELFAST. Photo Colm Lenaghan/Pacemaker Press

Bombardier says it is “not in a position to elaborate further” over whether its announcement of 7,500 global job cuts will affect its Newtownabbey sites.

Bombardier Aerospace Ltd currently employs more than 1,000 workers in the Newtownabbey area, most of whom work at its Doagh Road site.

The company also owns a facility at Church Road.

It is not yet clear if any local jobs will be affected.

The move follows a previous jobs cut announcement in February, when Bombardier revealed that it aimed to cut 1,000 jobs from across its Northern Ireland operations with 580 jobs will go this year with up to 500 more next year, equivalent to around 20 per cent of the company’s workforce in the Province.

A Bombardier spokesperson said that the company would be “evaluating the impact” of the announcements on its operations across Northern Ireland, including Newtownabbey, and would “communicate with our employees when that is completed.”

“We are not in a position to elaborate further at this time,” she added.

In a statement on the most recent job cuts, the company said that the move was part of its five-year turnaround plan which launched last year and which involves “streamlining administrative and non-production functions across the organization” to “reduce costs and improve productivitiy.”

“Approximately 7,500 positions will be impacted as the company executes its workforce optimization and site specialization actions through 2018,” it added.

“The impact of these restructuring actions on overall employment will be partially offset by strategic hiring to support the ramp-up for key growth programs, including the C Series and Global 7000, as well as to support major rail contract wins.

“As a result of the actions announced today, the company expects to achieve recurring savings of approximately $300 million by the end of 2018.

“Specific actions to be taken by the company include streamlining its administrative and non-production functions across the organization and leveraging its worldwide footprint to create centres of excellence for design, engineering and manufacturing activities in both its aerospace and rail businesses.”

President and Chief Executive Officer of Bombardier Inc. Alain Bellemare said: “The actions announced today will ensure we have the right cost structure, workforce and organization to compete and win in the future.

“We are confident in our strategy, our leadership team and our ability to achieve both our 2016 goals and our 2020 turn-around plan objectives.”

“When we launched our turnaround plan last year we committed to transforming our company; to reduce costs, to leverage our scale and to become more efficient in all our operations, and that is exactly what we are doing.

“While restructuring is always difficult, the actions announced today are necessary to ensure Bombardier’s long-term competitiveness and position the company to continue to invest in its industry leading portfolio while also deleveraging its balance sheet.”

Economy Minister Simon Hamilton said that the announcement would “come as a great shock to the Northern Ireland workforce.”

“The staff at Bombardier’s sites across Northern Ireland are foremost in my thoughts as they face into an uncertain time ahead,” he said.

“I, and my officials in Invest NI, together with colleagues in the UK Department for Business Energy & Industrial Strategy will continue to engage with Bombardier management both here and in Canada.

“As the company works through the detail of what the impact will be here, we will do absolutely everything we can and take every opportunity available to us to highlight to senior decision makers in the company the strength of Bombardier’s Northern Ireland operations and the skills of the workforce. I will do everything I can to fight to save as many Bombardier jobs in Northern Ireland as possible.”

Referring to the previous job cuts announcement in February, Mr Hamilton added: “It had been our hope that the announcement in February represented a peak in potential job losses at the company. Based on today’s announcement from Canada it is clear that the combined pressures on both its markets and the ongoing need to drive competitiveness means the organisation is having to make further changes to its business to safeguard its future.

“When I met with Michael Ryan recently he discussed with me Bombardier’s ongoing challenges and it was made clear to me that government intervention would not help them address the difficulties the business is facing across the globe.”

CEO of Invest Northern Ireland Alistair Hamilton expressed isappointment at the jobs cut announcement.

“Today’s news will be very upsetting to those working for the company, and their families, especially following on from the announcement made in

February,” he said.

“The company is yet to provide the detail on where these job losses will come from and therefore we do not yet know the potential impact on Northern Ireland.

“It is important to note that today’s announcement by the company signals an ongoing ramp-up on its newest aircraft programmes, the C Series and Global 7000, both of which have significant Northern Ireland work content.

“We will continue to work closely with Michael and his team in Belfast to support them through this process, and will maintain contact with the management team in Canada to present the strengths and benefits of Northern Ireland as part of the Bombardier operation.

“We also remain committed to the implement the Aerospace Growth Partnership’s Industrial Strategy for UK Aerospace and our regional strategy for the sector.”