Call for H&W taskforce to protect Belfast shipyard industry and jobs
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.”
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."
Belfast Telegraph Digital