Unite warns of US plans to impose tariffs on state-of-the-art air line
AEROSPACE workers warned against complacency yesterday after Bombardier sold its Northern Ireland-made C-Series to Airbus.
Unite urged the British government to press the US to abandon plans to impose tariffs totalling 300 per cent on the state-of-the-art airliner, which could jeopardise around 14,000 jobs in Northern Ireland, where the aircraft’s wings are made.
Canada’s Bombardier announced on Monday that Airbus was taking a controlling 50.01 per cent stake in the the C-Series — for no payment.
Bombardier president Alain Bellemare said: “This partnership should more than double the value of the C-Series programme and ensures our remarkable game-changing aircraft realises its full potential.”
US Secretary of Commerce Wilbur Ross drew condemnation from unions and government alike last month when he proposed a 220 per cent import levy on the new airliner — then an additional 80 per cent.
That was after Boeing, whose veteran B-737 design faces competition from the C-Series and the Airbus A320, accused Bombardier of unfairly benefitting from state aid. Bombardier will deliver the first of 125 C-Series jets ordered by Atlanta-based Delta Airlines next year. Bombardier claims they are more comfortable, efficient and reliable than the Boeing 737.
Airbus CEO Tom Enders said some of the planes could be built at a plant in Alabama, dodging the import tax. Boeing responded angrily to news of the deal, saying in a statement: “This looks like a questionable deal between two heavily state-subsidised competitors to skirt the recent findings of the US government.”
Unite assistant general secretary for aerospace Steve Turner warned: “The deal could take a year or so to get through the relevant competition authorities while Boeing in the US is unlikely to sit idly by.
“During this period there is a danger that tariffs will be imposed and the C-Series will be effectively locked out of aviation’s largest market.”
He said the government “must use every lever at their disposal to ensure Boeing drops its complaint.
“The UK government needs to stand up against corporate bullying backed by the US protectionist regime under the Trump administration.” Labour Party shadow business secretary Rebecca Long-Bailey also warned the government against “taking its foot off the pedal.”
“The government must ensure that unjust tariffs are removed and existing jobs protected.”