Jackie Pollock: “When working people organise, everyone wins”
Landmark win will boost confidence of NI workers
October 1st: Welcoming this morning’s announcement that the shipyard has been bought with jobs and full terms and conditions secured Unite Regional Secretary Jackie Pollock said that the dramatic turnaround in the iconic shipyard’s fortunes was due solely to the determination of the workforce who refused to accept the loss of their jobs and skills. Today’s news follows a nine-week occupation of the shipyard by workers, supported by their unions.
“On July 29th, following a week of speculation and the threat of imminent closure, workers at Harland & Wolff took matters into their own hands and occupied the site. While politicians on all sides threw up their hands, claiming that the shipyard could not be saved and efforts should be focused on securing redundancy payments, the workers stepped up and took control.
“Few commentators believed they would be win, but as trade unionists they had belief in the power of collective action. Now, the Administrator is preparing letters requesting our members return to work this week following the acceptance of bid from Infrastrata which will not only save jobs but lay the foundations for the yard’s expansion.
“This is one of the most significant victories won by trade unions in Northern Ireland, and it is due to the efforts of the workers themselves supported by their unions and officials.
“Today’s lesson is clear: when working people organise, everyone wins!”, Mr Pollock said.
Congratulating the workers and their shop stewards on their victory, Regional Coordinating Officer Susan Fitzgerald said that the workforce had not only rescued their own jobs but had laid the foundations for a new sense of self-confidence among working class people:
“Harland and Wolff workers have defied the cynics to show that decisive, militant and organised action can secure real victories. As well as safeguarding their own futures, the workers have sent a message that will be heard across Northern Ireland, most immediately by Wrightbus workers in Ballymena facing a crisis not of their own making. It is a mark of the decency of this workforce that this week, instead of just celebrating, they are planning to make their way to Ballymena to stand with union workers there.
“With this new company we look forward to pushing to have our members focussed on what they do best, that is ship building and green energy infrastructure. Northern Ireland’s skillbase is our most valuable asset, and it is an asset workers are determined to defend – whether in Belfast or in Ballymena”, Ms Fitzgerald concluded.