Unite takes fight for Bombardier jobs directly to US Capitol Hill

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Unite and Unifor reps meeting Bombardier CEO Alain Bellemare in Montreal


Unite will highlight that 22,000 US jobs are involved in C Series production, tariffs will only damage all workers

December 14th: A delegation from Britain and Ireland’s largest trade union, Unite will take the fight for Northern Ireland Bombardier jobs to the heart of US administration today when they meet with political representatives in Washington, including Congressmen and the Senate House Foreign Relations Committee.

The Unite group including Bombardier workplace reps, Noel Gibson and George Burnside, regional industrial officer, Susan Fitzgerald and Unite assistant general secretary, Steve Turner, will raise concerns that the 300 per cent tariffs proposed by the US commerce department on imports of the company’s C-Series are not simply unjustifiable but will lead to a crippling impact on Northern Ireland’s economy.

More than 4,000 workers are employed by Bombardier at five production sites in Northern Ireland. Plans were for more than 60 per cent of that workforce to be employed on C-series production in the next five years.

Import duties on the scale proposed would effectively shut-out Bombardier’s C-Series from the US airline market – currently the largest in the world – and undermine the economics of Bombardier retaining a footprint in Northern Ireland.

Speaking ahead of the meeting, Unite assistant general secretary Steve Turner, set out what he hoped to communicate: “Since our arrival in Montreal on Sunday we have met with trade unionists from across the aerospace sector, including Boeing itself, and there is a common understanding that the case being brought forward by Boeing and backed by the US administration will only damage workers across the board. 

“Workers are caught in the crossfire of a senseless and meritless case. We will not sit idly by and watch the destruction of a leading edge product built by a world class workforce in Northern Ireland.

“I will be impressing upon US politicians we meet that Boeing has suffered no loss from the C-Series and is unlikely to do so in the future, they didn’t bid for the contract to supply Delta Airlines they are complaining of and don’t even make an aircraft in the same seating class.

“ Furthermore, over half of all production for the C-Series is in the US with leading American manufacturers such as Pratt & Whitney supplying the engine.

“22,000 jobs in the US are associated with the C-Series and there is the opportunity for even more American jobs to be created with the planned new assembly facility in Alabama.

“Instead of looking at this as a zero-sum-game, the US authorities need to recognise that Bombardier has invested more than $5 billion in bringing forward a next generation aircraft – enjoying a 20 per cent greater fuel economy.

“This is an opportunity for tens of thousands of additional jobs in the aerospace sector as flight costs fall further offering great benefits to US airline operators and US consumers”, Mr Turner finished.

Susan Fitzgerald, regional industrial officer representing Unite’s Bombardier members in Northern Ireland, reported that when they met him earlier today in Montreal, the delegation had pressed Alain Bellemare, Bombardier CEO, over workforce concerns for the company’s commitment to the region:

“We raised our concerns over jobs, and the impact of the punitive import duties proposed by the US administration on the C-Series, with the Bombardier CEO. 

“We made it clear that we can’t absorb any more job losses and that there needs to be a commitment by the company to the five sites in northern Ireland. 

“As a result of our meeting he has agreed to travel to Northern Ireland to directly address our concerns.

“In the meantime Unite will continue to push our members concerns at every avenue available to us”, Ms Fitzgerald concluded.

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