Belfast Telegraph

Call for former Harland and Wolff staff to return to shipyard on Sunday as part of campaign to save jobs

Employees of Harland and Wolff during their protest at the gates of the shipyard in Belfast (Liam McBurney/PA)
Employees of Harland and Wolff during their protest at the gates of the shipyard in Belfast (Liam McBurney/PA)

Former and retired Harland and Wolff workers have been invited to return to the shipyard on Sunday as part of a special event.

Concrete prints will be made of the "hands that built the shipyard" during an event at 12pm.

Unite shop steward at the shipyard Joe Passmore said that the event is part of the staff occupation in an effort to save jobs, with Harland and Wolff entering administration earlier this week.

“The gesture of concrete hand prints is a testament to the people who built this great industry. The yard means so much to this city and beyond, it needs to be re-nationalised," Mr Passmore said.

"We need to take ownership. All hands on deck - let’s save our shipyard."

Unite Regional Coordinating Officer Susan Fitzgerald said that those campaigning to save the yard have been inspired by solidarity from retired workers.

“The massive campaign to save Harland and Wolff has struck a chord with people throughout Belfast and Northern Ireland, including many former and retired workers," she said. 

"This project reminds us that Harland and Wolff was built by workers’ hands. We don’t just need to save current jobs, we also need to pass on skills to a new generation of workers’ hands”.

The east Belfast shipyard has run out of money in the face of escalating financial troubles.

As well as a dearth of new contracts, it has also suffered as a result of the bankruptcy of its parent company Dolphin Drilling, which put Harland & Wolff on the market in December.

Administrators have said that since they were appointed four days ago, more interested parties had come forward with a view to potentially buying the shipyard, the birthplace of the Titanic.

Insolvency experts Brian Murphy and Michael Jennings from business advisory firm BDO are now running the business.

Newry-based MJM Group withdrew from the process after previously taking part in talks to buy the firm, while US based-investors Flacks Group also made an offer before the administration process began. However, it is understood the Flacks Group offer did not present a viable option to H&W directors.

Members of the 130-strong workforce at H&W have been staging a sit-in for nearly two weeks.

The administrators have confirmed staff have agreed to be temporarily laid-off - a move which secures their contracts of employment while the administrators try to find a buyer.

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