Belfast Telegraph

Call for H&W taskforce to protect Belfast shipyard industry and jobs

Shell tanker Myrina being assembled in September 1967 at the Harland and Wolff shipyard. PA/PA Wire
Shell tanker Myrina being assembled in September 1967 at the Harland and Wolff shipyard. PA/PA Wire
The Shell tanker Myrina being assembled at the shipyard. PA/PA Wire
January 1984 of Harland and Wolff Shipyard, Belfast.
The giant bows of an 80,000-ton tanker taking shape in the Belfast shipyard of Harland and Wolff in July 1963. PA/PA Wire
07/01/1966 - Sea Quest, British Petroleum's 9,500 ton drilling rig, after being launched at the Belfast shipyard.
11/03/1971 - A view of Belfast from the giant Goliath crane.
11/07/1982 - The return of SS Canberra from the Falklands conflict.
The SS Canberra in May 1982 of SS Canberra, on its journey south to the Falkland Islands. It was built at the Harland and Wolff shipyard in Belfast. Commando Forces News Team/PA Wire
HMS Belfast which was built the Harland and Wolff shipyard. It is due to be placed into administration on Monday. Andrew Matthews/PA Wire
One of the five Stena Line ferries undergoing a refit at Harland and Wolff.
Hydraulic riveters at work during construction of SS Oceanic in the early 1890s.
HMS Belfast being launched on St Patrick’s Day,1938.
Shipyard workers finish for the day in 1966.

The UUP has called for the formation of a Harland &Wolff taskforce to protect employment and manufacturing at the east Belfast shipyard.

It comes as administrators were appointed to assume responsibility for the company putting 125 jobs on the line.

Unions and workers have made appeals to the government to step in with calls for the shipyard to be nationalised. However, it has said there is nothing that can be done to save the site with the Secretary of State working to help those affected.

Ulster Unionist East Belfast MLA, Andy Allen said the appointment of administrators called for immediate action.

"I have therefore written to the Secretary of State, Belfast Harbour Commission, Invest NI, the Department for the Economy and Belfast City Council requesting they work collectively to form a taskforce to ensure that the land on which Harland & Wolff sits continues to be used for future manufacturing and employment," he said.

"I believe this task force should work in conjunction with Belfast City Council’s newly established manufacturing forum to urgently explore every possible avenue to ensure the full manufacturing and employment potential of the Harland and Wolff site is achieved.

“We cannot afford to see this site plundered for the development of multi-storey apartments. We should be setting a marker down that we will do everything possible to expand our manufacturing base, and that includes Harland & Wolff, and the site on which it sits."

Mr Allen said the H&W crisis further emphasised the need for a manufacturing strategy for Northern Ireland.

He continued: "We raised it in the Assembly in 2016, have pushed for it to be included in any future potential Programme for Government during the current talks process and will continue to do so.

“Our thoughts continue to be with the workforce and their families at this difficult time and we will do all that we can to support them.”

Concern: MLA Andy Allen
Concern: MLA Andy Allen

Unite regional organiser Susan Fitzgerald said the workers were "digging in" in the hope a solution can be found.

"This is a viable operation," she said.

"There are contracts out there waiting to be won, work waiting to come in and on the basis of an intervention from this Government, that work could start straight away," she said.

"We made it clear to the Secretary of State that the Government needs to intervene now, they need to offer a lifeline to the workers here by re-nationalising this shipyard.

"We also made it clear that it would cost more money to close it than it would to save it, so it's not a moral argument we are making, there is a hugely economical and viable argument that we are making here."

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