Workers’ message is clear: “Save our Shipyard”
Harland and Wolff must not be allowed to sink by default
July 29th: Responding to the protest by workers at the gate of the iconic Harland and Wolff shipyard, which faces the threat of imminent closure, trade unions Unite and GMB today (Monday) have said they fully understand workers’ frustration at the government’s failure to take action to preserve jobs and skills in Northern Ireland and secure the future of the yard.
Workers today hung a banner from one of the landmark cranes with a simple message “Save our Shipyard”, and are currently protesting at the main gate of Harland and Wolff. Workers have locked the gate and say they will not leave until a resolution is found that will enable the shipyard to remain open.
Unite’s Regional Coordinating Officer Susan Fitzgerald said:
“Workers fighting to preserve Harland and Wolff deserve the support of everyone concerned for the future of jobs and skills in Northern Ireland. Prime Minister Boris Johnson will this week make his first visit to Northern Ireland as PM, and Unite is again calling on his government to nationalise Harland and Wolff and cooperate with the workers to chart a way forward for the yard”.
“I’ve no doubt that that other workers, trade unionists and the broader community will flock to support these workers in their efforts to secure jobs and a future.”
GMB Regional Organiser Michael Mulholland pointed out that the Scottish government is drawing up plans to nationalise the Ferguson shipyard on the Clyde, and said it would be ironic if one of Boris Johnson’s first acts as Prime Minister was to let Harland and Wolff “sink by default”:
“Shipyards such as Harland and Wolff or Ferguson are vital to any country’s commercial and defence infrastructure. However, it seems Mr Johnson has yet to realise this and is prepared to allow Harland and Wolff to sink by default. The protest by workers today is an indication of their determination not to allow this to happen”.
Joe Passmore is a steel worker at the yard and said: “we never thought we would be put in this position, it was always assumed that the management and politicians would come up with a plan but so far they’ve failed, but we aren’t prepared to see this place fail when we know it can be viable and vibrant. The Government needs to nationalise this yard to not just save jobs but to create more.
Harland and Wolff staff member Paul Beattie added: “the workforce here are highly skilled and committed, it’s not good enough for anyone to shrug their shoulders and say we should walk out of here on Wednesday and never return. We are disgusted at the idea of companies sitting out there like vultures waiting for this place to go into insolvency so they can swoop in”.