AFTER the Scottish government announced they will nationalise Ferguson Marine shipyard, trade unions are calling on the UK government to safeguard jobs and skills in Harland and Wolff in Belfast.
Susan Fitzgerald, Unite Regional Coordinating Officer demanded the UK government move quickly to renationalise the Belfast shipyard:
‘The historic stand at Harland & Wolff shipyard has kept the door open for the business to be transferred as a going concern safeguarding the jobs and skills of this workforce.
‘Unfortunately, the failure to date of the UK government to intervene and take the facility into public ownership has left the workforce reliant on bids coming in from the private sector.
‘We understand that prospective buyers have been asked to provide indicative bids by midday. Serious bidders will base their offers on a genuine interest in taking the shipyard forward as a going concern with all the workers’ jobs and skills intact.’
She continued to warn: ‘But they need to be aware that if the bids do not reflect a genuine interest, this workforce is going nowhere.
‘Renationalisation remains the best outcome for Harland & Wolff.
‘The skills of this workforce could be directed at a wide-range of productive sectors, including shipbuilding, renewables infrastructure and civil infrastructure.
‘Investment in such opportunities offers the potential for thousands of highly-skilled jobs to be created here in Belfast in the just transition to a more sustainable economy,’ Fitzgerald said.
Denise Walker, Senior Organiser for the GMB union, called on the British government to follow the example of the Scottish Executive and commit to nationalisation:
‘In recent days and under pressure from the workforce there, the Scottish government has committed itself to nationalise Ferguson Marine shipyard.
‘There can be no excuses for protracted failure to act similarly in Belfast. The workforce expects all local political representatives to use any influence they have to compel the UK government to act,’ Walker concluded.
A delegation of workers from Cammell Lairds, plus a delegation from ESB who donated 5,000 euros to the occupation, joined the picket line on Thursday.