Collins Aerospace job losses blow highlights urgent need for Stormont Aerospace rescue plan

Management plans for 235 redundancies at Kilkeel site as Covid downturn impacts demand for aerospace production

Kieran Ellison Unite Regional Officer

Stormont must bring forward furlough extension to enable vital skills retention and enable upskilling for future growth

Kieran Ellison, Unite Regional Officer with responsibility for his union’s membership at Collins Aerospace in Kilkeel, confirmed that his union had been informed by management of proposals to make up to a quarter of the workforce at the site redundant.

“Collins Aerospace are proposing to make 235 redundancies in their workforce of 948 – almost a quarter of the total directly employed.

“This news will be devastating for the Collins Aerospace workforce and the local community in and around Kilkeel. Job losses at this scale will be a hammer blow to the local economy and will mean uncertainty for many other workers and small businesses dependent on these jobs for a livelihood.

“This is only the latest in a series of severe jobs blows to Northern Ireland’s Aerospace sector. Unite is estimating that the Kilkeel job losses will cost the local economy £10 million a year.

“While the likes of France and Germany have brought forward multi-billion pound strategies to safeguard jobs and skills in their Aerospace sectors, the UK government has made a patch work of initiatives whilst at the same time we are seeing a tsunami of jobs losses on its watch. Stormont also needs to step up both in terms of support for NI aerospace and also to pressure the UK government to match France and Germany in terms of support.

“As an immediate priority, we need to see the introduction of short-time working similar to the German Kurzarbeit scheme to enable the continued employment of workers, alongside a training programme to upskill them for the future.

 “A Unite delegation recently met with the Economy Minister and Invest NI but they gave no strategy to end the bleeding of jobs from this vital sector.  Action is urgently needed from the entire Northern Ireland Executive as opposed to a continuation of the light touch, ‘laissez-faire’ approach which has delivered nothing but failure in the face of an unprecedented downturn. They either do this or watch this key sector disappear on their watch like so many others have already.

“The most critical factor in the future ability of Northern Ireland Aerospace to bounce back is the retention of workforce skills and experience. Aerospace has played a major role in the economy supporting not just every type of local business through wages earned but also in taxes for the government. With the right support that saves jobs and skills it will repay that money back in a relative short space of time.

“We can’t continue to suffer these sorts of blows without any form of intervention whatsoever by Stormont – if they don’t act we face the prospect of losing another industry on their watch”, Mr Ellison concluded.

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