There’s been a decline in Bombardier’s business globally (not just NI). Specifically the new C Series jet has run into commercial trouble, not least because the fuel efficiency it hoped would be a strong selling point has been neutralised by the oil price collapse.
According to the BBC…
Bombardier Vice-President Michael Ryan said: “The whole global aerospace world is looking at how they can optimise their costbase and that includes going to what we would call lower cost countries.
“If we want to compete being in a global market place then we need to take advantage of that where it’s relevant.
“But I have to say that the technologies we’re investing in, the value-added process, the higher value programmes we’re looking at, are a key part of Belfast’s future going forward and will continue to be.”
Of course the Quebec government’s $1 billion bailout (and 49.5% equity in the project) after a 4.9 billion loss in Q3 last year might also have something had something to do with it.
Northern Ireland is not alone. Worldwide, 7000 jobs are going with NI accounting for most of the job losses in the UK. The Guardian reports:
Of the 580 Belfast posts being cut this year, 380 come from the group’s complementary labour force, which is made up of temporary and agency workers and fluctuates depending on projects. Bombardier’s unionised workforce in Northern Ireland was asked to accept pay cuts last year but rejected them.
From the Union’s point of view…
Davy Thompson, [Unite] the union’s regional coordinating officer, said: “The Northern Ireland executive needs to redouble their efforts and secure alternative employment for those highly skilled workers who will be made redundant. Invest NI must now commit themselves fully to proactively seeking foreign investment in manufacturing.”
Quite. [You’ll have to get them to take their fingers out of their ears first – Ed.] The irony is that the C series jet was originally projected to bring 900 new jobs, which might have enabled Shorts to restructure the abiding jobs imbalances at the factory.
Mick is founding editor of Slugger. He has written papers on the impacts of the Internet on politics and the wider media and is a regular guest and speaking events across Ireland, the UK and Europe. Twitter: @MickFealty