Bombardier workers to meet MPs to press concerns over jobs in Boeing tariff row

Rebecca Smith
The Canadian aerospace firm is embroiled in a row with American rival Boeing
The Canadian aerospace firm is embroiled in a row with American rival Boeing (Source: Getty)

Bombardier workers will today fly from Belfast to meet with MPs at the House of Commons to press for more action from government over the trade dispute with Boeing they worry is threatening jobs.

The deputation, with representatives from Unite union, on behalf of Northern Ireland's 4,500 Bombardier workers, comes after criticism the government is not doing enough to address the situation.

American firm Boeing had claimed Bombardier was selling its C Series jet below cost thanks to unfair state subsidies. It was announced last week that the US was imposing an import tax of 80 per cent on the jets, on top of a near 220 per cent tariff already in place.

Read more: Bombardier slapped with greater US tariffs amid protectionist concerns

Unite assistant general secretary Steve Turner said: "The British government has a duty to defend UK manufacturing jobs against the bullying behaviour of Boeing. A failure to do so will signal that any ambition ministers have for a coherent industrial strategy is effectively in tatters and that they are happy to put Trump’s ‘America First’ policy ahead of UK manufacturing jobs."

The Bombardier workers are calling for the government to "summon Boeing to an urgent summit meeting involving Prime Minister Theresa May and the Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and trade unions".

Yesterday, business secretary Greg Clark said he understood workers' concerns, and that the government will continue in its efforts to pressure the US to drop the tariffs, and that neither the UK nor Canada "will rest until this groundless action is ended".

He had previously travelled to Chicago to speak directly to the chairman and chief executive of Boeing, asking them to withdraw their complaint.

It comes after defence secretary Michael Fallon warned that the row could jeopardise future Boeing deals with the UK, saying "we want a long-term partnership, but that has to be two-way".

Concerns have been raised in Britain, as Bombardier is one of Northern Ireland's biggest private sector employers, with the wings for the C Series jet made in Belfast. Trade body ADS has said the effect could be wider too, as the firm in Belfast has an overall supply chain of around 800 firms in the UK and Ireland.

Last week, the chair of the International Trade Committee wrote to the secretary of state seeking detail on what action the government was taking over the dispute, amid concerns of increased US protectionism.

Read more: Greg Clark commits to keeping up pressure up for Bombardier tariffs removal

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