Council pledges support for Bombardier workers

Members of Lisburn & Castlereagh City Council have pledged their support for global aerospace firm Bombardier.

Wednesday, 29th November 2017, 11:52 am
Updated Wednesday, 29th November 2017, 12:06 pm
Cllr Scott Carson (left) and Cllr Jonathan Craig (right) with Bombardier workers at Lagan Valley Island on Tuesday evening.

Workers from across the company’s five production sites in Northern Ireland gathered outside the council’s Lagan Valley Island headquarters on Tuesday evening to urge councillors to vote in support of a Unite-sponsored motion backing the union’s #backBombardierjobs campaign.

The motion demands action from both the UK government and EU Trade Commissioner to overturn the threat to jobs at Bombardier as a result of the US Commerce Department’s proposal to impose a 300 per cent surcharge on the company’s C Series aircraft.

Unanimously backing the motion, which was proposed by DUP Cllr Jonathan Craig and seconded by his party colleague Cllr Scott Carson, members also resolved to support the workforce and company by writing to Prime Minister Theresa May and the European Trade Commissioner about the issue.

Cllr Craig commented: “As a former employee of Bombardier I know all too well the potential impact that the recent surcharge by the US may have on Bombardier, its workforce and the broader Northern Ireland economy. We are under no illusions as to the significance of the company within Northern Ireland and also the Lisburn & Castlereagh City Council area as it contributes almost one quarter of a billion pounds in direct wages to Northern Ireland. The 4,000 plus workforce in the province contribute a unique set of skills that enable the company to be world leaders in R & D composite engineering and manufacturing.

“As well as those employed directly by Bombardier, there are also many sub contracting firms and suppliers who also contribute to the C series project.

“Locally, in Dunmurry, we have in the region of 400 direct workers and many more who travel to other plants in Newtownabbey or Queen’s Island on a daily basis. This country cannot and should not give in to bullying tactics. It is time for Westminster and Europe to act in defence of manufacturing in their jurisdiction.”

Councillor Carson, whose father has worked in Shorts and then Bombardier for more than 40 years, added: “The future of Bombardier has been invested heavily in the C series and Northern Ireland has a major role to play in that.

“We also recognise the fact that there are many smaller but important companies in the supply sector for this and other aerospace projects and these contribute strongly to our economy in Lisburn & Castlereagh.

“I welcome the lobbying that has already taken place by colleagues in Westminster, especially Gavin Robinson MP in East Belfast and Nigel Dodds in North Belfast. Let the message be clear: We are proud that Northern Ireland plays a vital role in this global industry, we back jobs for Northern Ireland, we back the workforce, we back local suppliers, and we back Bombardier.”

According to Unite, more than 300 workers are employed at the Bombardier Aerospace site in Dunmurry and an estimated 1,000 further workers are in the company’s supply-chain in the local area.