Speakers at trade union rally include Matt Wrack, the General Secretary of the Fire Brigades Union and Alex Rogan, GMB convenor at Ferguson Marine
Rally to proceed concurrently with Belfast City Council manufacturing forum meeting at which union representatives will direct questions to Secretary of State for Northern Ireland, Julian Smith MP
The Northern Ireland committee of the Irish Congress of Trades Unions (ICTU) will host a rally of trade unionists in solidarity with the Harland & Wolff workforce and their fight to save the future of the shipyard tomorrow at 12.30pm. At the same time the rally will gather at the gates of the shipyard, union representatives will address a meeting of Belfast City Council’s manufacturing forum at which the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland, Julian Smith MP will be present and be questioned over the response of the UK government to the crisis in the company.
Unite Regional Secretary, Jackie Pollock, welcomed the initiatives and extended a welcome to the speakers who had confirmed for the rally.
“Four weeks ago few gave any chance that this shipyard could be saved. Politicians, economists and pundits agreed that there was no hope and that this was a business in long decline. Only the workers and their trade unions believed that a future was there to be won. In the total absence of government action to safeguard the yard, through their action in occupying the shipyard, the workforce held open the door for a range of credible commercial bids to come forward. These workers have demonstrated in the flesh the creative power of organised labour and our ability as a class to reshape things in our own interests.
“While the quality and seriousness of the commercial bids provide a significant degree of confidence for the future, the workforce continues to demand action from government; in particular should these commercial bids fail to convert into reality – the government must intervene to renationalise this industry.
“At the same time that trade unionists will be rallying at the shipyard, Belfast City Council will host a manufacturing forum meeting with the current Secretary of State for Northern Ireland, Julian Smith MP. Regional Coordinating Officer in Unite, Davy Thompson, will present the case for renationalisation at that meeting and the need for action to underpin skills for an ambitious manufacturing strategy. Tomorrow’s meeting offers an opportunity to hold the Secretary of State to account over the government’s total inaction on Harland and Wolff”, she said.
Ahead of chairing the rally tomorrow, Susan Fitzgerald, Unite Regional Coordinating Officer paid tribute to the speakers confirmed for the rally tomorrow.
“It is highly apposite that Alex Rogan, the GMB convenor at Ferguson Marine in Scotland will address the rally – given the recent moves by the Scottish government to nationalise his shipyard many will be left wondering why it is that similar support has not been offered to the workers in Harland & Wolff.
“Also speaking will be Matt Wrack, General Secretary of the Fire Brigades Union who has cut short his vacation to come to the rally. His presence reaffirms the solidarity between the Harland & Wolff workforce and members of the Fire Service here in Northern Ireland who face severe cuts to staffing levels as a result of austerity budget cuts”, she concluded.
Musician Tommy Sands will play at the rally and other speakers include Gerry Murphy, ICTU President; Owen Reidy, ICTU Assistant General Secretary as well as Harland & Wolff reps, Paul Beattie (GMB) and Joe Passmore (Unite).