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Job Losses in Manufacturing Industry

Part of Private Notice Question – in the Northern Ireland Assembly at 4:00 pm on 20th April 2009.

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Photo of Arlene Foster Arlene Foster DUP 4:00 pm, 20th April 2009

In relation to Bombardier, the CSeries project is on schedule. My Department and I are working closely with the company to make sure that that new, highly technological development that is taking place here in Belfast goes ahead. There was some confusion in some of the media reports of the Bombardier job losses that they were in some way linked to the CSeries project; they are not. The jobs that will be lost at Bombardier are as a result of the current global recession, and Bombardier has revised its current aircraft production rates downwards. That has nothing to do with the development of the CSeries; in fact, the CSeries development shows that the company is looking to the future. It is providing a new aircraft that will be fit for purpose for the latter half of the twenty-first century. We should take that as a sign that the company is here, and is here to stay.

Indeed, FG Wilson confirmed today in a statement that it remains absolutely committed to its plants in Northern Ireland, and refuted any allegations to the contrary. Those companies are here in Northern Ireland, and want to stay in Northern Ireland, because they know the value of the workforce and the skills base here.

However, those companies are facing a short-term downturn. The Government must find ways to help them, which is why I am having talks with the Minister for Employment and Learning, in the hope that we can bring forward a package to help the manufacturing sector in particular, which, as we know, lost 2% of its base in just one week. That was a huge hit, and we must provide a rapid response that will help the manufacturing sector.