A strike over redundancies and pay agreements has shut down production at Bombardier's Shorts site in Belfast, UK. The Transport &General Workers Union (TGWU), one of the two unions that have taken 4,000 workers - 80% of the total workforce - off the line, says Bombardier has reneged on a May agreement that 100 planned redundancies would be wholly voluntary. Bombardier is also transferring night-shift workers on to a less well-paid afternoon shift to pay for salary increases for other employees, also agreed earlier this year, the union argues.

Bombardier says it has asked the workforce for "a period of pay restraint" and adds that the May deal, although agreed by negotiators for unions and management, was rejected by the workforce themselves. After workers started to protest by refusing to use a production tracking system, Bombardier blocked them from re-entering the factory, leading to an all-out strike on 26 November.

Talks between unions and management ended without agreement on 26 November and are due to restart this week. Bombardier says a stoppage of a few days will not affect production. However, a longer strike could be crippling: a three-week strike in 2002 by Bombardier staff in Montreal in April 2002 delayed deliveries by 30 days and cost the company C$240 million ($185 million) in lost earnings. Shorts produces aerostructure components for Bombardier aircraft.

Unions representing production workers at Embraer's Sao Jose dos Campos factory were late last week warning they could call a strike if talks over pay and conditions break down.

Source: Flight International