Thousands of jobs in Northern Ireland could have been saved after the plane-maker Bombardier won a US legal battle to reverse potentially disastrous import tariffs on its C-series aircraft.
The US International Trade Commission (ITC) voted unanimously in favour of Canadian firm Bombardier, after Donald Trump’s administration had proposed damaging duties of 292% following a complaint from rival firm Boeing.
The ITC ruling went against the expectations of trade unions as well as the British Government.
Boeing complained to US authorities last year that Bombardier’s C-series planes were being sold to the US airline Delta below their production costs, and that they had been given illegal subsidies from both the UK and Canadian authorities.
In a statement following the ruling, Bombardier said:
Today’s decision is a victory for innovation, competition and the rule of law. It is also a victory for US airlines and the US travelling public.
The C-series is the most innovative and efficient new aircraft in a generation. Its development and production represent thousands of jobs in the United States, Canada and the United Kingdom.
We are extremely proud of our employees, investors and suppliers, who have worked together to bring this remarkable aircraft to the market. With this matter behind us, we are moving full speed ahead with finalising our partnership with Airbus.
Integration planning is going well and we look forward to delivering the C-series to the US market so that US airlines and the US flying public can enjoy the many benefits of this remarkable aircraft.
Unions respond to ITC ruling
GMB, the union for Bombardier workers, described the ruling by the ITC as a “sweet relief” for the Northern Ireland economy, as the tariff could have jeopardised up to 14,000 Northern Ireland workers across Bombardier and the supply chain.
GMB Organiser, Michael Mulholland said:
At last there is some good news for our Bombardier workers in Northern Ireland.
These tariffs would have been nothing short of a disaster for the Northern Ireland economy.
Hopefully this can now be an end to the stress and worry for our Bombardier members and they can concentrate on the job they’re paid to do.
This whole Bombardier saga must act as a warning to the UK Government about the kind of battles it faces to defend UK jobs and industries as we leave the EU and face the increasingly hostile territory of trade wars on our own.
Steve Turner, a Unite assistant general secretary said:
Bombardier workers in Northern Ireland and throughout the supply chain in the UK will be breathing a huge sigh of relief that the International Trade Commission has seen though Boeing’s baseless complaint.
When the going got tough, Unite did not throw in the towel. Our members and shop stewards redoubled their efforts in bringing pressure to bear on politicians in Washington, Westminster, Brussels and Northern Ireland.