Harland and Wolff workers warn of wider economic blow if shipyard closes
A staff member said that when the yard has a big contract more workers are brought in, which benefits local hotels, taxi companies and restaurants.
Harland and Wolff gives economic benefits far beyond east Belfast, workers have warned as they fight to save their jobs.
Workers at the historic shipyard took control of the gates following news the business is up for sale amid serious financial problems at its Norwegian parent company.
Passing cars blasted their horns in solidarity with the workers as they declared they would stand there for as long as it takes for a solution to be found.
Harland and Wolff’s famous yellow cranes dominate the Belfast skyline, but health and safety manager Paul Beattie said many people and areas beyond will also feel the economic pain if it closes.
“This potentially goes beyond 123 families that depend on Harland and Wolff for income,” he said.
“Whenever we get a contract in, we’ll have 500-700 people here coming from right throughout the UK, so if Harland and Wolff close, we’ll lose all that as well.
“A major project can see 1,000 people working in the yard, they all need hotel rooms, bed and breakfasts, taxi companies, pubs, clubs, restaurants – they all benefit.”
Steelworker Joe Passmore said: “The workforce are enraged at the minute, we’re fuming we didn’t get the help we asked for, we’re fuming we are left with 48 hours to save our jobs and no-one seems to care, most of all our politicians.
“What really makes it infuriating is that when the Scottish Government found this crisis in Ferguson shipyard on the Clyde, they overturned everything, they went out of their way to the point where Ferguson shipyard is on the verge of becoming nationalised. We can’t understand why our politicians hide behind the idiocy of Stormont and red tape.
“Surely it has got to be more economical to keep this yard open than allow it to go down the drain like this.”