HARLAND AND WOLFF shipyard has been occupied by the workforce to prevent its closure.
However on Monday, the unions involved revealed that staff had already been given redundancy notices and that the business would cease trading that evening. The yard went into administration yesterday. This is now an emergency situation!
The workers are occupying and demanding that the plant be renationalised. However, their leaders, both union and Labour Party, are refusing to demand supporting action.
The giant Unite trade union warned on Monday that ‘Prime Minister Boris Johnson is on the verge of betraying Northern Ireland workers if the UK government fails to step in at the last minute to save the Harland and Wolff shipyard.’
Unite’s leaders must be from another planet if they think that Tory right-winger Johnson, now the PM, will save the plant. Far from ‘betraying’ workers Johnson is doing his job as the Tory PM, by helping to bury the historic shipyard, insisting that its closure is ‘a financial issue’.
Once again, far from being a traitor, the butcher Johnson is simply acting for the ruling class, as any Tory PM does and has always done.
In fact, as the union leaders continue to waste valuable time, the formal legal process to place Harland and Wolff into administration was completed yesterday afternoon.
Labour’s Shadow Chancellor John McDonnell also paid the shipyard workers a visit on Monday.
He assured them that Labour would have nationalised the shipyard and again accused the Tory government of betrayal!
Every worker knows the Tory Party has always stood for the interests of the ruling class, and has always made the working class pay for any crisis of the capitalist system. In fact, as every worker knows, the last ten years since the 2008 crash have been years of austerity, carried out by the Tories, who cut, cut and cut workers’ living standards to the bone.
McDonnell said: ‘The Prime Minister must intervene to save the jobs, skills and infrastructure that we will need to preserve our shipbuilding capacity.
‘With the right intervention – including the option of the yard being taken into public ownership – we know Harland and Wolff would be in a position to win available contracts, both naval and commercial, and diversify into new products that would give the shipyard a long term, stable and profitable future.’
The next day Harland and Wolff was put into administration! McDonnell made no call on the working class or the TUC to take action. He acted ‘responsibly’ so as not to create more problems for the bosses!
Both the Unite and GMB trade unions have called for the shipyard to be nationalised.
Both unions know that Harland and Wolff is just the thin end of the wedge for massive closures of industry because of the economic crisis and the EU-US-China trade war.
Also facing closure and mass sackings are the remnants of British Steel, Honda Swindon, Nissan in Sunderland, Ford Bridgend, Vauxhall Luton and Ellesmere Port.
Tens of thousands of workers face the sack in these industries and their families face huge hardship – all to keep the bosses going.
In reality, the workers of Harland and Wolff are showing the way for workers to fight back and hit back.
Instead of pleading with Johnson, the leaders of Unite, the GMB, and the Labour Party should be organising mass occupations of these threatened plants and a general strike to beat the Tory butchers.
They should be raising the issue in the TUC general council and demanding that the TUC gives support to all trade unions occupying their threatened plants. They should put down a motion to September’s TUC Congress that it calls a general strike to secure every job and plant by bringing down the Tories, and bringing in a workers government.
This would require the TUC changing its policy and supporting leaving the EU since under EU law renationalisation of plants is illegal.
Only the WRP fights for these vital policies to defend all jobs.
Make sure that you join the WRP today to fight for a socialist solution to the world crisis of capitalism!