MPs have joined Bombardier workers outside the Houses of Parliament as part of a campaign to protect jobs in Belfast.The workers, along with the trade union, Unite, displayed a large banner stating “back Bombardier”.The group is due to meet Business Secretary Greg Clarke later.The Canadian aerospace company is in a trade dispute with rival firm Boeing over alleged below-cost selling of its C-Series jet.The row threatens jobs at Bombardier’s Belfast plant where the wings of the C-Series are made.Bombardier employs more than 4,000 people in Northern Ireland – and is one of its biggest private sector employers.The US government imposed an import tax of 80% on the jets, on top of a 220% tariff already set.Prime Minister Theresa May spoke to US President Donald Trump on Tuesday night and discussed the importance of Bombardier jobs to Northern Ireland.The government has been accused of “inaction” over potential job losses at the firm’s Belfast plant.A spokesperson said that the government “will continue to strongly defend our interests in support of Bombardier” and that it is carrying out cabinet-level engagement with the US administration and Canadian government.
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A number of Bombardier workers arrived at Westminster on Wednesday along with representatives from Unite.
Analysis: Julian O’Neill, BBC News NI business correspondentThe union Unite aims to be heard.It will unfurl a banner outside parliament this morning urging MPs from all parties to defend Bombardier jobs.Union officials will be accompanied by Belfast workers, first in talks with MPs then culminating in an expected meeting with the Business Secretary, Greg Clark.Unite want the government to get tougher with Boeing, saying it must threaten the US aerospace giant with, in its words, “sanctions on contracts” unless it attends a summit meeting to settle its bitter trade dispute with Bombardier.
The group will call on the prime minister to summon Boeing to a summit with Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau.They have also called on the UK government to get tougher with Boeing and threaten the US aerospace firm with sanctions on government contracts.Union representative Davy Thompson said workers and the union are “hoping to impress on all the politicians at Westminster of the importance of Bombardier, not just to Northern Ireland but to the UK as a whole”.He added that the government need to be “stronger” with Boeing and said the firm was “effectively bullying the UK government”.
The workers are expected to meet Business Secretary Greg Clark. On Tuesday, he told the House of Commons that he understood the worry felt by the workforce.He told MPs he would “not relent until the jobs are saved”.He said the government “strongly disagreed ” with the US ruling and would “vigorously and robustly defend ” the interests of Bombardier.