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Last Updated: Wednesday, 25 October 2006, 15:49 GMT 16:49 UK
Bombardier denies job losses link
Aerospace workers
More than 600 jobs are going at the firm
Aerospace company Bombardier has said there is no connection between the growth of its operation in Mexico and job losses in Belfast.

Almost 650 jobs are going at Shorts in Belfast, which is owned by Bombardier.

A similar number of jobs are being cut by the company in Canada at the same time as it is creating about 1,200 in Mexico.

Enterprise Minister Maria Eagle said it was a difficult time, but it was "not the beginning of the end" for Shorts.

"Of course this is terrible news for the individuals who are affected by it, for the people who work at Shorts who may now lose their jobs some time next year," she said.

"But it is not the beginning of the end for Shorts or Bombardier in Belfast."

There is absolutely no connection between the expansion in the Mexico plant and the announcement of the reduction of manpower levels in Belfast and Montreal
Bombardier

On Tuesday, the firm said 645 jobs would go at Shorts and all levels would be affected.

The minister, who met Bombardier management during a trade mission to Canada last week, said she was not surprised they did not tell her about the job losses.

She said it was proper for them to inform the staff affected first.

Bombardier said the Belfast job losses were the result of the lower demand in the worldwide market in regional jets.

This has led has led to fewer orders, it said.

The factory in Mexico specialises in electrical harnessing for Bombardier aircraft.

Bombardier said in a statement: "In relation to Bombardier's Mexico facility, there is absolutely no connection between the expansion in the Mexico plant and the announcement yesterday of the reduction of manpower levels in Belfast and Montreal."

Shorts production line
Bombardier is the parent company of Belfast aerospace firm Shorts

The company added that no decision was taken with regard to the production rates on the CRJ700/900 regional jets, and the subsequent impact on jobs, until Monday evening.

It said that in accordance with legislation, Bombardier informed the stock exchange and subsequently its employees and the news wires of its decision on Tuesday.

"Bombardier has been publicly stating for several months that its production rates were under review, and this position was reiterated to the minister during her visit," the company said.

Peter Williamson of the Amicus union said he was shocked when he heard about the job cuts.

Consultations will begin with the unions to try to keep the compulsory redundancies to a minimum.

The firm said it would cut production of the CRJ700/900 regional jets and increase production of the Q400 turboprop.

Part of the turboprop is made in Belfast, but not enough to offset the cutback in regional jet production.

The Belfast jobs will start to go in January 2007, the company said.

Bombardier president Pierre Beaudoin said they had to ensure "we achieve our goal of increased profitability and our success in the long term".




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