Bombardier Aerospace Ltd has insisted that it remains “committed to maintaining a strong presence” in the Newtownabbey area despite announcing that it is to cut 1,000 jobs from across its Northern Ireland operations.
The company, which has sites in Newtownabbey and East Belfast, has just revealed that 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 spokeswoman told the Times that it was “not giving a break down in terms of sites” which will be affected by the announcement.
Bombardier is cutting 7,000 jobs in total across its global workforce.
The Canadian-owned company is experiencing financial difficulties due to low sales of its C Series plane.
The wings and many of the fuselages of the planes are built in Northern Ireland.
The production of wings for the CSeries is worth £520 million, making it the larges inward investment programme in Northern Ireland.
In a statement, Bombardier said it was cutting jobs to “optimise its workforce in 2016 and 2017.”
Around 580 jobs will be cut this year, and the company says it expects to have a “further potential reduction of some 500 next year.”
“Around 200 Bombardier employee jobs in Northern Ireland are currently at risk of redundancy,” the statement continued.
“The company will be lodging a formal HR1 redundancy notice with the Department for Employment and Learning, following which there will be a 90-day consultation period when we will explore opportunities to mitigate the number of compulsory redundancies.
“In addition, around 380 members of our Complementary Labour Force (CLF) and other agency workers are being released from their assignments with the company in 2016.
“This includes 60 CLF who already left the company in January.
“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.
“We will continue to evaluate all opportunities to significantly reduce our costs, improve our competitiveness, and boost our profitability, whilst focusing on the unique capabilities that will help shape and secure our future,” it concluded.
Unite’s Regional Coordinating Officer with responsibility for the Bombardier workforce Davy Thompson described the announcement as a “hammer blow” for the manufacturing sector, and said that the workforce had been left “disheartened.”
“This job’s loss announcement is the latest, cruel blow to Northern Ireland’s manufacturing sector,” he stated.
“While the scale of the losses reflect the severe market conditions being experienced by the group which has led to over seven thousand job losses globally, heavy manufacturers across the region continue to face challenging times.
“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.
“We are calling for all parties to publicly support the call for a manufacturing strategy and establish an investment taskforce for the sector bringing together all stakeholders, including Unite.
“Unite will continue to liaise with Bombardier management to secure jobs in Belfast and defend our members’ terms and conditions during this difficult period”, Mr Thompson concluded.
Bombardier’s annual results revealed that turnover had fallen by 9.5 per cent in the year to December to $18.2bn.
Pre tax profits dropped by 40 per cent to $554m.
However, the company said Air Canada has ordered 75 of its CSeries 300 jets.
Enterprise, Trade and Investment Minister Jonathan Bell and Minister for Employment and Learning, Dr Stephen Farry expressed their “deep regret” at Bombardier’s announcement.
Mr Bell said: “The impact of this decision will be hard felt in Northern Ireland, in particular by those personally affected. 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.
“Between 2002 and 2015, Invest NI offered £75m of assistance to Bombardier, including £21m for the CSeries, in support of investment commitments totalling £844.5m.
“While Bombardier has said there is nothing we can do to reverse this decision, we will continue to work closely with the company and to explore other ways to support their drive for greater efficiencies.
“While today’s news is deeply disappointing, Bombardier Inc has made it clear that the decision has been taken to safeguard the company’s long term future globally and here in Northern Ireland.
“I want to assure the affected staff that, together with Invest NI, the Department for Employment and Learning, and colleagues in the entire Northern Ireland Executive, we will do all that is possible to limit the impact of the redundancies and help with possible retraining.”
However, Mr Bell said that Air Canada’s CSeries order would prove to be a “positive development for the CSeries project.”
“The company has reaffirmed its commitment to the CSeries project and Belfast’s critical role in its delivery. Confirmation today that Air Canada has signed up for 75 CS300 aircraft is a positive development for the CSeries project as a whole and I hope that in the long term as more orders are received, that we will see employment levels increase once again,” he concluded.
Employment and Learning Minister Dr Stephen Farry added: “The job losses announced today by Bombardier are extremely regrettable, not only for those who have lost their jobs, but also for the families, communities and the economy as a whole.
“My department will be proactive in determining what steps we can take to assist employees facing redundancy to provide them with advice and guidance regarding re-skilling, training and alternative employment opportunities. Officials will work closely with all those involved to ensure that the best advice, help and support are offered to all those affected employees at the appropriate time.
“My Department will also be offering redundancy clinics to the company and their employees. The Redundancy Advice Service works in partnership with a range of agencies including the Further Education Colleges and HMRC to provide advice and support on a range of issues.”