Update: Union calls on UK Govt to pressure Bombardier into retaining 'world-class' operation if no buyer found

Update: Union calls on UK Govt to pressure Bombardier into retaining 'world-class' operation if no buyer found

Update: The Unite trade union wants the UK government to “lever” pressure on Bombardier that if a buyer is not found they will retain operations in Northern Ireland.

“They have indicated that they intend to be responsible, we will hold them to that,” Susan Fitzgerald, Unite’s Northern Ireland regional officer, told RTE radio’s News at One.

“We will be closely looking at the sale process. We want to make sure that whoever comes in is prepared to invest and expand. We don’t care what name is over the gate.”

The workforce was shocked at the “wholesale sale of the entire Northern Ireland division.”

“It’s a huge challenge for us.”

She told of how the workforce had been reduced in recent years from 11,000 to 3,600.

“Unite will do whatever it takes, we will move mountains to save jobs. This is a world-class workforce, it is an attractive proposition for a buyer.

Ms Fitzgerald said that the union has already been in contact with the UK government to urge them to put pressure on Bombardier that if they don’t find a buyer that they will retain operations.

However, she acknowledged that it is known that Bombardier “wants out”.

“They have been selling off the family jewels for some time. They have indicated that they intend to be responsible, we will hold them to that. We will be closely looking at the sale process.”

She said that whoever comes in needs to be prepared to invest and to reintroduce apprenticeships. “What we have seen over the years is swingeing cuts.”

Brexit “may complicate” the process, she said, but she pointed out that decisions had been taken by Bombardier to implement cuts before Brexit. “The die was cast a long time ago.”

Earlier: 4,000 jobs at risk as Bombardier puts Belfast site up for sale

Bombardier is to sell its aerostructures business in Belfast, the company has announced.

A statement by the Canadian manufacturing giant confirmed rumours which had been circulating at the plant in Northern Ireland.

A statement issued in Montreal said: "As the company moves to optimise its global manufacturing footprint, Bombardier will pursue the divestiture of the Belfast and Morocco aerostructures businesses. These are great businesses with tremendous capabilities."

Meetings were being held at the Belfast site today when more details were expected to be given.

A statement by Bombardier in Belfast said: "Our sites in Belfast and Morocco have seen a significant increase in work from other global customers in recent years.

"We are recognised as a global leader in aerostructures, with unique end-to-end capabilities - through design and development, testing and manufacture, to after-market support. Bombardier is committed to finding the right buyer - one that will operate responsibly and help us achieve our full growth potential.

We understand that this announcement may cause concern among our employees, but we will be working closely with them and our unions as matters progress, and through any future transition period to a new owner.

"There are no new workforce announcements as a result of this decision, but our management team will continue to drive ongoing transformation initiatives to improve productivity and increase our competitiveness, to give more weight to our unique value proposition to potential buyers."

PA

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