Q Radio News
Aerospace company Thompson Aero Seating has taken the "unavoidable decision" to announce a redundancy programme with a proposed reduction of up to 500 jobs.
The Portadown-based firm said the decision was a direct result of the Coronavirus pandemic, which led to unprecedented developments, that consequently reduced global demand for aircraft seating.
The 40% reduction will bring the company’s headcount back to the numbers employed in the business as recently as 2018.
Consultations will now commence with employees and representatives, with reductions to take place over the coming months.
Upper Bann MP Carla Lockhart has told Q Radio it's a body blow to the local economy...
The MP said: "Many of these jobs came to the area when the aviation industry was booming. Sadly, the impact of Covid-19 has decimated this sector and the announcement is a reflection of that.
"This is a devastating blow for these employees, their families and the local job market, not just in Upper Bann but the supply chain across Northern Ireland.
"I will be speaking with management and employees to discuss support measures and the way forward. The Government must look more strategically at the aerospace sector given the impact of Covid-19. We must ensure that families depending on this sector continue to have their livelihood. I know the Economy Minister is already aware of the pressures on this sector and has been making this argument in London.
"My thoughts are with the Thompson Aero Seating workers at this time. It is vital they get all available support at this challenging time.”
Devastating news of job losses at Thompson Aero Seating in Portadown. The downturn in aviation is having an effect globally. I am working with the Economy Minister to see what can be done to support these employees.— Carla Lockhart MP (@carlalockhart) June 4, 2020
Local MLA John O’ Dowd said while the announcement was not unexpected, it is still shocking.
He added: “500 men and women have been told they are losing their jobs.
“This is part of the economic devastation caused by COVID-19 and is the other side of the human tragedy of death and suffering.
“The global airline industry has all but collapsed as a result of COVID-19. The economic realities of old are changing.
“A new economy must recognise and protect workers and their families.
“Our Executive must be given the tools, including fiscal powers, by the British Government to rebuild our economy and create jobs.”
Alliance Armagh, Banbridge and Craigavon Councillor Eóin Tennyson also expressed sympathy with staff.
Really devastated for the workforce at Thompson Aero Seating with news of 500 potential redundancies, on top of 430 at the outset of the Covid-19 crisis.— Eóin Tennyson (@EoinTennyson) June 4, 2020
It's imperative that we see greater flexibility in the Job Retention Scheme beyond 10th June to protect workers. https://t.co/84rnOQBXBY
Councillor Tennyson said the effects would be felt both locally and wider.
He added: “Given the importance of Thompson Aero Seating, should these redundancies proceed it would be a devastating blow for the local economy in Portadown and further afield across Northern Ireland.
“My first thoughts are with the workforce, who have been left in this situation through no fault of their own, and who were also hit with 430 job losses only weeks ago at the onset of the coronavirus crisis.
“I intend to write to Thompson Aero Seating to seek assurances any job losses will be mitigated as far as is possible. The Government’s Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme requires workers to be furloughed before June 10 to receive support, however, that will not be possible in this case. It is vital we see the scheme being amended to take in exceptional circumstances such as these.”