Election candidate rumours as H&W workers ask Corbyn to save shipyard
Workers who have been occupying the Harland & Wolff shipyard since it fell into administration will ask Jeremy Corbyn to save the historic company today.
It's also believed that discussions with the Labour leader will include the possibility of standing shipyard workers in any upcoming general election.
There has been speculation Unite may stand two workers as candidates in North and East Belfast, seats which are held by the DUP, if there was to be a snap general election.
The firm that built the Titanic in Belfast entered administration in August under business advisers BDO. Around 120 jobs and the future of the yard are at risk.
Unite regional coordinating officer Susan Fitzgerald confirmed that shop stewards will travel direct from the shipyard occupation to the TUC annual conference in Brighton, where they will meet with Mr Corbyn.
She said the visit seeks to highlight the failure of the government to intervene and renationalise the shipyard as part of a wider investment strategy.
"Six weeks ago, workers moved to occupy the Belfast shipyard to win a future for jobs and skills at the site," she said.
"As yet they have still not received any assurances as to their jobs or the shipyard's future.
"Their action in occupying the shipyard has put centre-stage the failure of the UK government to act, to renationalise the yard and bring forward a long-term plan for its future growth and development.
"It has also kept open the door to the transfer of the company as a going-concern to potential buyers."
Ms Fitzgerald would neither confirm nor deny discussions with Mr Corbyn - whose own party does not officially stand in Northern Ireland - would include election candidates. She said the talks would be wide-ranging, but would mainly focus on saving the shipyard jobs.
GMB Harland & Wolff members will also meet Mr Corbyn.
Denis Walker, GMB senior organiser, said: "If Harland & Wolff closes, it will be yet another nail in the coffin of UK manufacturing. The yard must be taken into public hands to save Belfast's proud shipbuilding heritage."