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Anger from Bombardier workforce over sale to Mitsubishi

Workers at Bombardier in Belfast have once again had doubts cast on their job security. Credit: Presseye

Aerospace company Bombardier has agreed to sell its regional jet programme to Japan’s Mitsubishi, with anger among the Belfast workforce over the lack of communication.

The announcement of the $550m deal was made by the Canadian parent company on Tuesday.

In a statement, Bombardier Belfast then said: “Following today’s announcement regarding the definitive agreement for Mitsubishi Heavy Industries to acquire the Bombardier CRJ programme, we are reviewing what impact this may have on our sites in Northern Ireland and Morocco as suppliers to the programme, and will evaluate opportunities in other programmes to mitigate any potential impact on our workforce.”

However, the union Unite said the deal would plunge workers in Belfast into uncertainty.

Despite the huge skills base among the workforce in Northern Ireland, there are grounds for concern about the long-term security of the approximately 350 jobs sustained by this work in Northern Ireland – at worst, this sale might simply be a case of Mitsubishi buying up a competitor to increase market share.

– Susan Fitzgerald, Unite

“The fact that no one in the Northern Ireland operations was informed about this by Bombardier global corporate management will result in a wave of anger and concern among the workforce,” Susan Fitzgerald, Unite Regional Coordinating Officer, said.

According to Bombardier’s press release, Mitsubishi Heavy Industries will “acquire the maintenance, support, refurbishment, marketing, and sales activities for the CRJ Series aircraft, including the related services and support network located in Montréal, Québec, and Toronto, Ontario, and its service centres located in Bridgeport, West Virginia, and Tucson, Arizona”.

Bombardier is one of Northern Ireland’s largest employers, with more than 3,500 workers, mostly based in Belfast.

The company confirmed its plans to sell the Belfast operation last month.

Unite is now calling for a “cast-iron commitment” to those workers who could be affected by the sale.

“Unite will be meeting our team of shop stewards and with our colleagues in the GMB to coordinate our response to this latest threat,” Ms Fitzgerald added.