Unite has demanded that Boeing ‘ends its corporate bullying’ and the UK government stands up for manufacturing jobs after the company lodged claims of ‘price dumping’ with the US Department of Commerce, in a case concerning Bombardier’s Cseries airliners.
If Boeing claims are upheld, Bombardier could face punitive fines and this would place at risk thousands of jobs at the company’s Belfast factory and could threaten the site’s very existence.
Boeing’s claims are a result of Bombardier having benefitted from state investment from Canada and from Invest NI, Northern Ireland’s economic development agency, all of which was lawful and legitimate. Unite is demanding that the UK government urgently clarifies the legality of the state funding that Bombardier raised.
Bombardier is the largest private sector employer in Northern Ireland.
Speaking on the last day of the TUC Congress in Brighton today (September 13), Unite assistant general secretary Tony Burke explained that at present thousands of workers at the Belfast factory – about one in 4 – are employed on CSeries production and in four years’ time, this number is set to rise to 60 per cent of jobs on the site.
“These jobs are vital to the aerospace industry and manufacturing economy and sustain many times more in the wider supply chain in the UK and Ireland,” Burke said.
“What is needed is to end this corporate bullying by Boeing that is putting thousands of good jobs at risk,” he added.
“Boeing’s attempts to link this public investment to the allegation of unfair competition are unsustainable; indeed, in the case of the sale of planes to Delta airlines which has been raised, Boeing did not even make a bid.”
Burke told Congress that UK unions were briefed on Monday on the threat posed by Boeing’s actions and are now in contact with the Machinists Union and the Steelworkers in the USA.
He said that they were told that Theresa May had a phone conversation with President Trump on the matter.
“But it is our understanding that the President can have no input into this decision,” Burke noted.
He highlighted that the UK government is in fact the second largest purchaser of Boeing products, including the P8 marine surveillance aircraft and Apache helicopters estimated to be around £4bn worth of work.
Concluding his speech intervening on a TUC report paragraph, Burke said, “Unite is demanding the Prime Minister and the government stand up for the workforce in Northern Ireland and our aerospace industry and to stand up for decent jobs.
“She needs to tell President Trump, she will not stand by and watch Boeing threaten thousands of jobs.”