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Bombardier May Cut 1,050 Jobs

June 5, 2003

BELFAST, Northern Ireland (AP) _ Bombardier Inc. of Canada said Thursday that 1,050 jobs are in jeopardy at its Northern Ireland plant after the 5,700 workers there rejected a new pay deal.

Union chiefs expressed anger at Bombardier’s decision _ but also frustration with workers who rebuffed a union-approved pay deal that would have safeguarded their jobs.

By rejecting the deal, said union representative Kevin McAdam, employees had ``voted for their P45s″ _ the British tax document issued to laid-off workers.

Bombardier spokesman Alec McRitchie said it would be at least six months before any workers are laid off. But ``we have advised the employees today that we intend to outsource some of the work,″ he said.

In a statement, the Montreal-based maker of regional and business aircraft said its operations in Belfast were being jeopardized by excessive costs. The company, it said, had a ``clear responsibility to concentrate on regaining the competitiveness of this site.″

Bombardier in 1989 bought Short Brothers from the British government and has invested heavily in the plant, making it the largest private employer in Northern Ireland.

But declining international demand for Bombardier’s specialties _ corporate jets and small passenger aircraft _ has meant a series of cutbacks at Shorts, as the plant is still called. About 1,200 workers have already been laid off this year.

Thursday’s statement specified that Bombardier would cut ``underperforming″ operations, including a night shift and an assembly line making aircraft fuselages.

Senior politicians in east Belfast urged union leaders and Bombardier to resume negotiations and revive the pay deal. The four-year deal workers rejected called for no pay raises in the first year and only minor raises thereafter.

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