January 27, 2018 / 10:39 AM / in 9 months

Relief for UK workers after Bombardier trade dispute victory

LONDON, Jan 27 (Reuters) - British politicians and union leaders hailed Bombardier’s surprise trade victory against U.S. planemaker Boeing Co, saying it had safeguarded thousands of jobs in Northern Ireland and across UK supply chains.

Friday’s ruling by the U.S. International Trade Commission (ITC) was also a boost for British Prime Minister Theresa May, as the Bombardier operation in Northern Ireland is central to the concerns of the province’s largest unionist party, the Democratic Unionist Party, which is propping up her government after a poor showing in last June’s election.

The dispute between the two companies had put thousands of jobs at risk at the Belfast plant where Bombardier makes the CSeries CS100 and CS300 carbon wings.

“It’s a huge relief, we always knew that (the case) was unjustified,” Britain’s business minister Greg Clark told BBC radio on Saturday.

“Not only does it mean this worry is out of the way, it means (Bombardier) can now go on with strength to expand because the CSeries has just tied up with Airbus,” he said.

On Friday, the U.S. ITC voted 4-0 to reject Boeing’s claims that it suffered injury by Bombardier underpricing the CSeries in the U.S. market and discarded a Commerce Department recommendation to slap a near 300-percent duty on sales of the 110-to-130-seat jets for five years.

“Boeing has investments in the UK and it was clear that it would have been very difficult to have a good relationship with them if they were threatening these hugely important jobs in Belfast,” said Clark.

On Friday, May had welcomed the ruling as “good news for British industry.”

Democratic Unionist Party member of parliament Gavin Robinson said the ruling was “fantastic news” for Bombardier’s 4,000 workers in Northern Ireland. His East Belfast constituency includes a Bombardier plant that produces wings for the CSeries.

Trade unions were similarly jubilant.

“Bombardier workers in Northern Ireland and throughout the supply chain in the UK will be breathing a huge sigh of relief that the ITC has seen through Boeing’s baseless complaint,” said Steve Turner, assistant general secretary of the Unite union.

“There can be no backsliding from the U.S. government on this decision.” (Reporting by James Davey and Conor Humphries; Editing by Mark Potter)

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