Johnson must exploit window created by workers’ determination
Rally hears message of support from Len McCluskey
July 30th: As workers battle to save Harland and Wolff, large crowds attended a support rally held outside the iconic shipyard today and heard that the company will now be placed in administration on Monday, rather than tomorrow (Wednesday) as originally feared. Speaking at the rally, Unite Regional Secretary Jackie Pollock said that the workers’ determination, combined with public pressure, had created what he termed “a narrow window of opportunity”, and that it was now up to UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson to exploit that window:
“By delaying administration until Monday, workers have created the narrowest of windows. It is now up to Prime Minister Johnson’s government to seize that opportunity to save not only the jobs of workers currently employed at Harland and Wolff, but the thousands of direct and indirect jobs that could be created.
“Following days of pressure, the Government has finally come out of hiding to state that, while they will work with partners to ‘understand the situation’, the crisis facing Harland and Wolff is a ‘commercial issue’.
“Workers would be delighted to welcome Mr Johnson to Harland and Wolff during his Belfast visit tomorrow to help him ‘understand the situation’. In addition to ‘understanding’ that Harland and Wolff remains viable and can be turned around with Government support, he should understand that the loss of direct and indirect jobs will impose a significant cost to the Exchequer in terms of benefits, lost taxes and reduced spending power. He should also understand that shipyards such as Harland and Wolff are crucial to his stated aim of maintaining naval strength, and that contracts to build navy vessels would not only put the yard on a sound commercial footing, but would also ensure that the navy benefits from the unrivalled expertise and experience of Harland and Wolff workers”.
The rally also heard a message of solidarity from Unite General Secretary Len McCluskey in which he said:
“When I think of shipbuilding in Belfast, I think Harland and Wolff. Of the generations who have their all to make this yard a success and put UK shipbuilding on the global map. I think of the communities built on the skills and wages of the workforce. And then I get angry that once again working people are being let down and abandoned by disinterested politicians and greedy businesses. Your response to their catastrophic failure of ideology, their absence of creativity, their insulting disinterest, is to say ‘enough’. If Boris Johnson and Andrea Leadsom had even an ounce of your vision and courage then this yard would be safe today and into the future”, Mr McCluskey said.