Urgent strategy needed to defend Northern Ireland’s Aerospace sector in face of mass jobs threat

Susan Fitzgerald RCOBombardier plans for 600 redundancies comes only days after similar announcements elsewhere in sector

Stormont Executive challenged over inaction in face of mounting threat to vital Aerospace sector

Reacting to today’s huge job loss announcement by Bombardier, Susan Fitzgerald, Unite Regional Coordinating Officer called for urgent action from the Northern Ireland Executive on a strategy for the vital Aerospace sector to survive the economic shockwaves of the Covid pandemic.

“Today’s announcement of 600 job losses is a huge blow to the Bombardier workforce, their families and the economy of Northern Ireland as a whole. Unite will do whatever it takes to support these workers but the reality is that every worker will be going home today in uncertainty and concerned for their future.

“Bombardier jobs are high-value added, unionised jobs. The money these workers spend and the supply chain demand from this business plays a vital role in the Northern Ireland economy. Redundancies on this scale will have a devastating impact across the board but in the face of mounting threats to the Aerospace sector as a whole, all we have seen is complete inaction from the Stormont Executive. 

“Governments in many other countries have announced major interventions to safeguard jobs and skills. France has just announced a €16 billion programme for their aerospace and aviation sectors to safeguard jobs, from engineers to airline and airport staff.

“Similar measures are needed at a UK and Northern Ireland level. Unless a specific support package is brought forward soon, including measures such as an aircraft scrappage scheme, then thousands of jobs will be lost and the UK will lose its standing as a world leader in aerospace. Public money invested to secure this industry would be recouped through the taxes and contributions of all those who would otherwise be forced onto dole queues and could be matched with equity-stakes and tied to a transition to greener aircraft.

“The action to save this sector needs to come from government. Where is Stormont’s strategy to safeguard Aerospace from the Covid downturn?”, Ms Fitzgerald asked.

GMB Senior Organiser, Denise Walker, echoed the concern of workers and pointed to the importance of Aerospace to Northern Ireland’s economy. 

“The news of 600 job losses will be devastating to workers at Bombardier and casts a shadow of uncertainty over the entire Aerospace sector in Northern Ireland. Today’s job losses will be felt by every member of our unions – it is a bitter blow.

“Aerospace is a vital element of Northern Ireland manufacturing and has a global footprint. Every major commercial aircraft programme in the world depends on structures, components and services sourced from Northern Ireland. The sector is valued at £1.9 billion and employs 10,000 workers, including those in sub-supply chains.

“Northern Ireland Aerospace is one of Europe’s leading aerospace regions in revenue terms – this is not a sector where a complacent ‘laissez-faire’ approach from Stormont will pass. We need to see real action to safeguard jobs, skills and a future.

“The workforce unions, the GMB and Unite, will be seeking urgent meetings with political leaders in the hours and days to come. We will continue to engage with our members and to provide all the support and help to those facing redundancy as a result of today’s announcement”, Ms Walker concluded.

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