Coronavirus: Fears 1,800 NI aerospace jobs ‘at risk’

Aeroplane flies overhead Image copyright Reuters
Image caption There are fears it could take the aerospace sector five years to recover from the pandemic.

Almost 2,000 jobs in NI’s aerospace sector are at risk because of the impact of the coronavirus pandemic, a trade union has warned.

Trade union Unite said around 1,800 jobs are threatened because of an “unfolding crisis” in the sector.

That number could rise further as furlough support ends, the union said.

Stormont’s first and deputy first minister and the union are now calling on Prime Minister Boris Johnson to establish an aerospace taskforce.

In a letter to Mr Johnson, Arlene Foster, Michelle O’Neill and Unite the Union along with the First Ministers for Scotland and Wales, say urgent intervention is needed.

They suggest the sector’s recovery is expected to take 3-5 years.

Image copyright Pacemaker
Image caption Bombardier is among Northern Ireland’s biggest employers

This will be very worrying for the thousands of workers at Bombardier in Northern Ireland which has already announced hundreds of job losses.

It will also have a huge impact on the many companies across Northern Ireland that rely on its supply chain.

Unite have warned threatened lay-offs to date would cause a £800 million blow to the economy and £17.5 million reduction in household consumption.

The union’s regional secretary Jackie Pollock said: “The prime minister must now respond positively to this initiative and ensure that every possible tool will be used alongside measures being enacted by the devolved administrations in order to preserve jobs and to sustain the aerospace sector throughout and beyond the Covid-19 crisis”.

First Minister Arlene Foster said: “The sector is crucial for Northern Ireland and everything possible must be done to ensure it receives maximum protection.”

“We have written to the Prime Minister to underscore the importance of intervention and to urge him to establish an Aerospace Taskforce as a first step in addressing the impacts being felt by the sector at this time,” she added.

Deputy First Minister Michelle O’Neill said: “We have already seen job losses in this area and the immense pressure caused by the pandemic has the potential to have further devastating consequences.”

She added: “The Executive is committed to doing everything it can to protect the sector, but we need to see immediate intervention from the British Government. Boris Johnson has a responsibility to step up and provide the support that’s desperately needed to safeguard the future of this sector and its workers.”

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