Bombardier staff reject pay freeze proposals
STAFF at Belfast plane manufacturer Bombardier have overwhelmingly rejected management proposals to freeze their pay as part of cost-saving measures.
The Canadian headquartered company had also asked staff to work an extra hour on Fridays for the next two years.
It wants to cut costs by 20 per cent by 2017.
The company employs around 5,500 people at its east Belfast factory.
In a ballot of workers represented by the union Unite, 88 per cent voted against the proposals.
Unite, which represents the majority of the workforce, said it would seek "urgent discussions" with employers.
Unite regional co-ordinating officer Davy Thompson said: "Unite negotiators were asked to ballot on a pay offer from management which would seek cuts to workers' terms and conditions and leave them dependent on a performance-related bonus for an improvement in their incomes.
"The union did not try to influence its members in regard to the offer but our representatives in the workforce presented it to them on the grounds outlined by management.
"While we recognise that Bombardier faces exceptional cash-flow pressures, the membership of Unite has exercised their democratic right in relation to this offer. We will now seek to engage with management in order to progress this matter further."
A spokeswoman for Bombardier said: "The company very much regrets that the offer it tabled aimed at cutting costs and contributing to the competitiveness of our Northern Ireland operations was not accepted by the workforce.
"It is vital that we reduce our costs significantly if we are to sustain our business here and ultimately protect jobs in the long term. The company remains open to engaging with the trade unions in order to find a resolution. We will continue to look at measures to reduce our costs and improve our competitiveness."
The problems for Bombardier follow delays in its much heralded CSeries aircraft.
The planes were due to be in service by now but have sustained a series of setbacks while orders for the aircraft have been lower than expected.
The manufacturer was forced to seek a bailout from the Quebec government in a move which the group insisted would not affect its Belfast workforce.
Meanwhile, there are fears over jobs at Kingspan's factory outside Portadown.
It is understood management at the renewables firm is in talks with union officials over the possible job losses.
Unite regional officer Joanne McWilliams told the Portadown Times: “Unite is aware of the threat of job losses at Kingspan. As yet, we are unaware of the numbers involved or the positions involved."