After years of redundancies and attempts to downgrade hard won terms and conditions, the announcement by aerospace firm Bombardier’s global bosses of their intention to sell their operations in Northern Ireland and Morocco creates further uncertainty and concern for workers and their families.
Bombardier accounts for almost 5% of the entire labour force of Northern Ireland and 10% of manufacturing GDP. The remaining 3,600 jobs are a drastically reduced figure, less than half of what it was in the 1990s, with thousands of jobs lost in the last three years alone through multiple redundancy announcements.
A fortnight after the announcement of sale, Unite trade union representatives in Bombardier, supported by others in the aerospace sector, moved an emergency motion at the union’s regional conference: “This conference confirms that our union will do whatever it takes to defend jobs and skills at Bombardier… We will continue to raise the idea and fight for the re-nationalisation of this company if that’s the only way to protect our members and defend local communities. We will do whatever it takes to prevent a ‘vulture’ company swooping in to pick while leaving the rest to waste. As a trade union our priority is jobs, skills and communities.” This motion won unanimous support.
Calls for government action to save jobs have been raised by workers at British Steel, where thousands of direct and supply chain jobs are threatened. Jeremy Corbyn echoed this when he spoke in Scunthorpe about ‘state intervention’ and ‘public ownership’. In the context of growing demands for nationalisation, the discussion naturally follows about who controls those industries. Workers will rightly reject any attempts to have public money fund companies that seek to further slash jobs and conditions. Socialists call for workers’ control and management of nationalised industry to prioritise jobs and the communities they support.