UK government must defend its right to invest in critical manufacturing sectors of the economy
Local political parties must find way to be relevant in dispute threatening thousands of jobs in Northern Ireland
September 12th: It was reported last night that Prime Minister Theresa May had a phone conversation with President Trump to discuss concerns for jobs after Boeing brought claims of price dumping by Bombardier to the US Department of Commerce. Davy Thompson, Unite Regional Coordinating Officer, highlighted his union’s position.
“If successful the claims brought by Boeing to the US Dept of Commerce of unfair competition by Bombardier’s CSeries could result in punitive fines, threatening the future of the Bombardier site in Belfast. At present one thousand workers, or about 25 percent, are employed on CSeries production here but in four years’ time that number is expected to rise to 60 percent of jobs onsite. Bombardier is the largest private sector employer in Northern Ireland; these jobs are vital to our economy and sustain many times more in the wider supply chain in the UK and Ireland.
“Unite the union was briefed yesterday on the threat posed by Boeing’s actions. Our union’s Regional Secretary and General Secretary are seeking to raise this at the highest levels with the British government and to use our international connections to engage with unions representing workers in Boeing itself.
“Bombardier benefited from state investment from the UK, Canada and from Invest NI all of which was entirely lawful and legitimate – a fact that the UK government should clarify. Boeing’s attempts to link this public investment to the allegation of unfair competition are unsustainable; indeed, in the case of the sale of planes to Delta airlines which has been raised, Boeing did not even make a bid.
“Prime Minister Theresa May is reported to have had a phone conversation with President Trump on the matter but it is our understanding that the President can have no input into this decision. What is needed is for the Prime Minister to phone the head of Boeing and direct them to end their corporate bullying. The UK government is the second largest purchaser of Boeing products. These present ample leverage to end this damaging course of action.
“Local politicians have a vital role to play as well. In the absence of a functioning Executive both leading parties need to find a way to be relevant to what is the greatest jobs threat facing Northern Ireland in a generation. Unite for our part will leave no stone unturned in our quest to safeguard these jobs”, Mr Thompson concluded.