27/09/2002

400 jobs go in Belfast and Carrickfergus

It has been a poor day for the local economy with the announcement that a total of 375 jobs are to be lost at two major companies.

Staff at Shorts where hit with the news that 240 jobs are to go at the east Belfast site. This brings to almost 1,000 the number of people who have lost their jobs at the company in the past 12 months.

In a statement, Vice-President and General Manager of Bombardier Aerospace Northern Ireland, Michael Ryan expressed his "regret" at the move. He said that the cuts were necessary due to the "continuing challenges in the aviation market".

He added: "We are ensuring that a strong integrated design and manufacturing capability is retained here in order to maintain our competitiveness and to be ready for the upturn in the market when it comes."

Mr Ryan repeated Bombardier's position – which it expressed at the last round of job cuts – that Belfast is "a core part of Bombardier’s aerospace business".

The jobs cull is not exclusive to Northern Ireland as a total of 1,980 employees, including 20% of management, are to be laid off at facilities in Canada, the US and the UK, beginning in October 2002.

Only three weeks ago, Shorts announced 461 jobs losses and blamed the cuts on the "reduction in our production activity caused by the effects on our customers of the world economic downturn and the impact of September 11th". A spokesman went on to say that Shorts would still have "major involvement" in the Global 5000 and Learjet 40 aircraft.

However, there was no such comfort this time round, as Bombardier also said that it planned to "temporarily" cut back production on some of its aircraft programmes in Belfast, where business aircraft component manufacturing will be affected.

Elsewhere, Getty Communications has announced that 135 jobs are to go following the closure of its Carrickfergus factory.

Managing director Brian Getty blamed "continuous operating losses" which made it "unlikely that a viable business could be sustained".

Commenting on the news, the Alliance Party's East Antrim assembly member, Sean Neeson, said: "Once again, a local business that has been bought over by a multinational company is losing out because of loss of profits elsewhere in the company. It's a big blow for Carrickfergus."

Mr Neeson added that he will be meeting with Enterprise Minister Sir Reg Empey on Tuesday to discuss the impact of the closure.

The firm is to begin a 90-day consultation period when it will explore alternatives to closure.

(GMcG)

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