Belfast Telegraph

Shipyard workers back Wrightbus staff in demands to save their jobs

Workers at the march for jobs from Unite’s Ballymena offices to the gates of the Wrightbus site in the Co Antrim town
Workers at the march for jobs from Unite’s Ballymena offices to the gates of the Wrightbus site in the Co Antrim town
Brett Campbell

By Brett Campbell

Harland & Wolff workers stood in solidarity with former Wrightbus employees as they demanded that bosses "hand over the land" to save 1,200 jobs.

Among the protesters who marched through Ballymena to the factory gates yesterday afternoon were shipyard staff who only returned to work on Thursday.

Electrical engineer Robert Childs (57) was among those who felt it was important to show support.

"We went through this ourselves," he explained. "It's difficult and I really think it's important to stand in solidarity.

"The motivation and support we received is what got us through so it's only right that we return that."

Fellow engineer William Elliott (56) encouraged those who have been left jobless to keep fighting.

"The suffering they are experiencing is disgraceful," he said.

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"It shouldn't be happening because there's more than enough work."

Both men were among the union members who fought for nine weeks to save Harland & Wolff before a £6m deal from London-based energy firm InfraStrata allowed them to go back to work.

Unite union officials shouted "give us the land" while Jeff Wright met with potential bidders inside the factory.

It is believed Mr Wright, the chief shareholder in the business and son of founder Sir William Wright, had been seeking £1m per year for rent from Chinese company Weichai, which planned to lease the premises as part of an acquisition deal, but Weichai then walked away.

Unite regional officer George Brash told a cheering crowd: "Whoever is in that factory needs to hear that message loud and clear."

It is understood four bidders are interested in buying the company including one from the UK, one from China and two from within the European Union.

March for jobs from Unite Ballymena offices to gates of Wrightbus site Ballymena. Credit: Jonathan Porter/PressEye
March for jobs from Unite Ballymena offices to gates of Wrightbus site Ballymena. Credit: Jonathan Porter/PressEye
Press Eye - Belfast - Northern Ireland - Friday 4th October 2019 Picture by Jonathan Porter / Press Eye March for jobs from Unite Ballymena offices to gates of Wrightbus site Ballymena. Unite calls rally and march as campaign intensifies to save jobs and skills, Unite is determined to secure a future for our members in Wrightbus and for Ballymena, we will be ferocious in our campaign to save these jobs.
Press Eye - Belfast - Northern Ireland - Friday 4th October 2019 Picture by Jonathan Porter / Press Eye March for jobs from Unite Ballymena offices to gates of Wrightbus site Ballymena. Unite calls rally and march as campaign intensifies to save jobs and skills, Unite is determined to secure a future for our members in Wrightbus and for Ballymena, we will be ferocious in our campaign to save these jobs.
Press Eye - Belfast - Northern Ireland - Friday 4th October 2019 Picture by Jonathan Porter / Press Eye March for jobs from Unite Ballymena offices to gates of Wrightbus site Ballymena. Unite calls rally and march as campaign intensifies to save jobs and skills, Unite is determined to secure a future for our members in Wrightbus and for Ballymena, we will be ferocious in our campaign to save these jobs.
Press Eye - Belfast - Northern Ireland - Friday 4th October 2019 Picture by Jonathan Porter / Press Eye March for jobs from Unite Ballymena offices to gates of Wrightbus site Ballymena. Unite calls rally and march as campaign intensifies to save jobs and skills, Unite is determined to secure a future for our members in Wrightbus and for Ballymena, we will be ferocious in our campaign to save these jobs.
Press Eye - Belfast - Northern Ireland - Friday 4th October 2019 Picture by Jonathan Porter / Press Eye March for jobs from Unite Ballymena offices to gates of Wrightbus site Ballymena. Unite calls rally and march as campaign intensifies to save jobs and skills, Unite is determined to secure a future for our members in Wrightbus and for Ballymena, we will be ferocious in our campaign to save these jobs.
Press Eye - Belfast - Northern Ireland - Friday 4th October 2019 Picture by Jonathan Porter / Press Eye March for jobs from Unite Ballymena offices to gates of Wrightbus site Ballymena. Unite calls rally and march as campaign intensifies to save jobs and skills, Unite is determined to secure a future for our members in Wrightbus and for Ballymena, we will be ferocious in our campaign to save these jobs.
Press Eye - Belfast - Northern Ireland - Friday 4th October 2019 Picture by Jonathan Porter / Press Eye March for jobs from Unite Ballymena offices to gates of Wrightbus site Ballymena. Unite calls rally and march as campaign intensifies to save jobs and skills, Unite is determined to secure a future for our members in Wrightbus and for Ballymena, we will be ferocious in our campaign to save these jobs.
Press Eye - Belfast - Northern Ireland - Friday 4th October 2019 Picture by Jonathan Porter / Press Eye March for jobs from Unite Ballymena offices to gates of Wrightbus site Ballymena. Unite calls rally and march as campaign intensifies to save jobs and skills, Unite is determined to secure a future for our members in Wrightbus and for Ballymena, we will be ferocious in our campaign to save these jobs.
Press Eye - Belfast - Northern Ireland - Friday 4th October 2019 Picture by Jonathan Porter / Press Eye March for jobs from Unite Ballymena offices to gates of Wrightbus site Ballymena. Unite calls rally and march as campaign intensifies to save jobs and skills, Unite is determined to secure a future for our members in Wrightbus and for Ballymena, we will be ferocious in our campaign to save these jobs.
Press Eye - Belfast - Northern Ireland - Friday 4th October 2019 Picture by Jonathan Porter / Press Eye March for jobs from Unite Ballymena offices to gates of Wrightbus site Ballymena. Unite calls rally and march as campaign intensifies to save jobs and skills, Unite is determined to secure a future for our members in Wrightbus and for Ballymena, we will be ferocious in our campaign to save these jobs.
Press Eye - Belfast - Northern Ireland - Friday 4th October 2019 Picture by Jonathan Porter / Press Eye March for jobs from Unite Ballymena offices to gates of Wrightbus site Ballymena. Unite calls rally and march as campaign intensifies to save jobs and skills, Unite is determined to secure a future for our members in Wrightbus and for Ballymena, we will be ferocious in our campaign to save these jobs.

Mr Brash claimed "the orders are there" but warned that every day is critical. He also told those left jobless that there has been an "absence of political intervention" as he called on the Prime Minister to "fulfil his promises".

Assistant general secretary of Unite, Steve Turner, urged Wrightbus workers to replicate the "fantastic victory" of shipyard staff.

Addressing buyers he added: "This is a world-class workforce producing a world-class product."

Belfast Telegraph

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