Pay stalemate at bombardier

The future of Bombardier’s operations in Northern Ireland have been thrown into doubt after workers rejected proposals to alter wages and working conditions, it has been claimed.

The plane-maker has asked its 5,000 strong workforce in Northern Ireland to accept a pay freeze amid what it terms a “serious financial crisis” as lower than anticipated orders were made for its new C-series jet, the wings of which are made in Belfast.

The jet, which has had 243 orders, instead of the expected 300, is aimed at a passenger market dominated by Airbus and Boeing but is already three years delayed and £1 billion over budget. Other suggestions put to the workforce include extending the working week to 37 hours, with workers putting in an extra hour every Friday.

Negotiations are set to continue with trade union Unite in the hope of finding a compromise but the union insisted it had not influenced its members in anyway. “While we recognise that Bombardier faces exceptional cashflow pressures, the membership of Unite has exercised their democratic right in relation to this offer. We will now seek to engage with management,” said a spokesman for the union.

A spokesman for Bombardier said cost reductions were crucial. “The company very much regrets that the offer tabled aimed at cutting costs and contributing to the competitiveness of our Northern Ireland operations was not accepted by the workforce,” said the spokesman. “It is vital we reduce our costs significantly if we are to sustain our business here and ultimately protect jobs in the long-term.”

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