09/08/2019

Extra Week To Explore Bids For H&W

The administrators in control of the iconic Harland and Wolff shipyard have allowed another week to find a buyer.

Several potential bidders are believed to have expressed interest in the under-threat shipyard, BDO Northern Ireland has said.

The company agreed to an unpaid lay-off of the workforce for a one-week period to allow all potential commercial opportunities to be explored.

While shipyard workers continue to occupy the site as their protest to save the yard continues, a small number of the workforce are believed to have taken up the option of redundancy.

Famed for building the Titanic and the home of Samson and Goliath, the iconic yellow cranes that dominate the east Belfast skyline, Harland and Wolff entered administration on Monday 05 August after its Norwegian owners failed to secure a buyer.

Supported by unions Unite and GMB, shipyard staff have had a presence outside the yard for almost two weeks and are calling on the UK Government to step in and rescue the operation.

Hours before the firm entered administration on Monday, trade union Unite urged Prime Minister Boris Johnson to intervene or risk betraying local workers.

The union said the UK Government should put Harland and Wolff into the hands of the official receiver and underwrite the firm in a similar arrangement to that undertaken with British Steel.

Unite believes such a move would enable the shipyard to continue operating as a going concern, sign contracts for on-going work and give confidence to customers, suppliers and contractors to commit already allocated work to the shipyard, including a refit contract worth over £22 million with Terranova.
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Unite assistant general secretary for manufacturing Steve Turner commented: "Boris Johnson is on the verge of betraying Northern Ireland workers, their families and communities reliant on skilled, well paid jobs in addition to a proud heritage of shipbuilding, maintenance and repair at Harland and Wolff.

"Standing back and allowing the shipyard to fall into administration to be picked over for scrap value by vultures looking to make a quick buck is in nobody's interest. As time runs out, Boris Johnson must step in, put Harland and Wolff into the hands of the official receiver and underwrite day-to-day running costs in the same way that successfully happened with British Steel.

"This will give a loyal customer base the confidence to place orders and the company the ability to sign contracts which it currently doesn't have. We know work is in the pipeline and a secure future can be provided to the yard until a responsible buyer is found avoiding the devastation of closure and forcing skilled workers onto the dole."

Mr Turner continued: "Staving off administration is not just in the economic and social interest of Northern Ireland, but in the strategic defence interests of the UK. Harland and Wolff has the largest dry dock in the UK and the only one big enough to fit our new Royal Navy aircraft carriers when they need to come in for maintenance and repairs.

"Additionally, the shipyard works with BAE on the Dreadnought submarine programme, has an important part to play in the building of the Royal Navy's new Type 31e Frigates and is central to the UK consortium’s bid to build the navy's fleet solid support ships.

"There is no reason why Harland and Wolff cannot have a bright future. All this proud workforce needs is a temporary boost from government and a commitment from UK ministers that they will back UK shipbuilding by block building the new fleet solid support ships in yards across the UK," Mr Turner concluded.



(JG/CM)

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