Politicians rally to help ease job cuts at Shorts

Community leaders and politicians in Belfast have called on the government to help the area deal with huge job losses planned at the aerospace company Shorts.

Shorts, which is owned by the Canadian company Bombardier Aerospace, has said it will lay off up to 900 people between now and the end of January 2002.

The company has also warned that a further 1,100 jobs from the 6,500 workforce will go early next year unless there is an upturn in market conditions.

The job cuts are believed to be largely as a result of the sharp downturn in air travel after the terrorist attacks on America.

Potentially the biggest single loss of jobs in Northern Ireland in decades, the job losses will be a combination of full time staff and short-term workers who had been taken on to meet a peak in demand.

Responding to the news of the jobs cuts Ulster Unionist leader David Trimble said: “I am very concerned at these job losses. This is clearly a consequence of the terrorist incidents in Washington and New York. It demonstrates that we cannot be immune from global events.”

Meanwhile, Northern Ireland Economy Minister Sir Reg Empey said it was a "cruel and devastating blow" for the company.

Sir Reg added: "I have written to the prime minister requesting that the government responds quickly to the threat that is now developing to the airlines and aerospace industries across the United Kingdom."

Northern Ireland Secretary John Reid said the news was a "bitter disappointment" for the workforce. "The US attacks have had a devastating effect on the aerospace industry worldwide. Sadly Northern Ireland has now been caught up in the aftermath. I will do all I can to avert major job losses locally.” (AMcE)

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