Belfast Telegraph

Unions call on Boris Johnson to launch Harland and Wolff rescue

Harland and Wolff is facing administration
Harland and Wolff is facing administration
Margaret Canning

By Margaret Canning

Trade unions have urged Prime Minister Boris Johnson to nationalise Harland and Wolff before it collapses into administration next week.

Financial problems facing the Belfast shipyard have escalated since a potential sale to one buyer fell through.

It's understood Newry-based MJM Marine walked away from a proposed purchase of the business, which employs around 130 people.

However, a spokesman for the company said that it "continues to work with prospective bidders and all stakeholders to ensure the smooth transition of business ownership".

But it's believed that the company will have to call in administrators if a sale cannot be agreed.

The operation was put up for sale by its Norwegian parent company Fred Olsen Energy in December.

That group, now known as Dolphin Drilling ASA, filed for bankruptcy last month.

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Trade unions Unite and the GMB have now called on Mr Johnson to invest in the business after he made a speech about "productive power".

Unite officer Susan Fitzgerald said: "Mr Johnson promised to 'unleash the productive power' throughout Britain and to 'level up' with 'higher wages, and a higher living wage, and higher productivity'. In order to deliver on his promises, Mr Johnson must be prepared to invest in maintaining jobs.

"Harland and Wolff - with the world's sixth-largest dry dock - is facing insolvency next week.

"The Government needs to intervene immediately to nationalise the shipyard, securing it and the jobs that workers and their families depend on."

Michael Mulholland, regional organiser for union GMB, said the DUP also needed to put pressure on the Government as it negotiates its new confidence and supply agreement.

"Unions are requesting a meeting with both Boris Johnson and the new Northern Ireland Secretary, Julian Smith, as soon as possible to brief them on the situation at Harland and Wolff, and we challenge this new Government to develop a 'jobs and skills' investment package," Mr Mulholland added.

"In the short-term, we are calling on the Government to nationalise Harland and Wolff and we are calling on the DUP and others to use all their influence to ensure this happens."

Belfast Telegraph