Union leaders fly to Brussels to rally Europe behind factory fight
WORKERS’ leaders from Belfast’s Bombardier aircraft factory flew to Brussels yesterday to demand an EU fightback against US threats of huge tariffs.
Prompted by Bombardier’s US-based rival Boeing, the US Treasury Department is threatening to slap import tariffs of up to 300 per cent on the Canadian transnational’s state-of-the-art new C-Series jet.
The protectionist action, to be decided early next year, threatens thousands of jobs at Bombardier’s Belfast subsidiary Shorts, which makes the high-tech wings for the C-Series.
Boeing claimed Bombardier benefits from state aid, appealing to US President Donald Trump’s “Make America Great Again” agenda to keep manufacturing jobs in the country.
General union GMB says the move is likely to be followed by further US trade tariffs on products from EU countries – and that the EU must retaliate.
The union sent a delegation to Brussels yesterday.
GMB regional organiser Michael Mulholland said: “GMB is heading to Brussels to demand action from the EU over this attack on our members in Bombardier.
“The EU took a firm response in 2002 when the US imposed punitive tariffs on EU steel exports, predominantly hitting the UK.
“Given the circumstances are similar in relation to Bombardier, GMB would anticipate the EU Commission will impose similar retaliatory tariff action on US imports to the EU.
“GMB’s delegation will speak directly to MEPs and trade officials about what action can be taken against the inaction of the [British] Conservative government and the aggressive move by the Trump administration.
“Fears are running high that this farcical situation may be a blueprint for future UK trade deals with the US post-Brexit.
“But this is not just a UK problem: we will warn officials that aggressive US action against our members in Northern Ireland is just the tip of the iceberg for companies across Europe.”
• Also in Brussels was British Northern Ireland Secretary James Brokenshire, for talks on the future of the border after Brexit between the North and EU member the Republic of Ireland.
He insisted: “There must be no physical infrastructure at the border,” a prospect repeatedly raised by Brussels scaremongers.