01/07/2003

Minister urged to intervene in Shorts crisis

East Belfast Ulster Unionist representatives Sir Reg Empey and Jim Rodgers have urged Enterprise Minister Ian Pearson to directly intervene in the current Bombardier-Shorts jobs crisis.

Sir Reg and Mr Rodgers have already met with Bombardier vice-president Michael Ryan last month over plans by the aircraft manufacturer to shed 1,050 jobs after workers rejected a negotiated contract renewal proposal from management.

Speaking after the meeting Sir Reg said: "We remain very much of the view that the Government needs to clarify its support for the Company, both through Invest NI and the Department of Employment and Learning.

"We called on the Minister again today to personally intervene or, at the very least, appoint a third party to arbitrate and see if any agreement can be struck between the Union workforce and Company Representatives.

"We are confident that he will do all in his power to find a way round the current impasse and he indicated to us that he was considering a number of different support packages to help in the current situation."

Mr Rodgers has described the situation at Shorts as "very serious" but said that the future of jobs was is in the hands of the Shorts workforce.

The two men made their plea during a meeting at Castle Buildings this afternoon.

(MB)

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