Shipyard workers occupy for climate jobs

An ongoing struggle in Belfast has seen militant workers at the Harland and Wolff shipyard call for re-nationalisation of the site and jobs in renewable energy.

Since the closure of the shipyard earlier this year, the workers have occupied the site for six weeks and are refusing to leave, blocking “administrators” from entering the site.

It was the site of the construction of the Titanic between 1909 and 1911.

The Harland and Wolff union rep, Joe Passmore, told of the breakdown in negotiations with management, saying “we had to go back to tell our workforce there’s no future and we’re closing on Wednesday night and we’re all unemployed. They were furious, so we decided to take matters into our own hands.”

The workers are looking to the enormous potential for jobs in wind turbines and tidal energy. A spokesperson for Unite, the union representing the workers, said: “They’re saying they could create thousands of jobs, and that we need a just transition to renewable energy.”

Some have made reference to Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and a Green New Deal, looking to the dual opportunity of job creation and sustainable energy production.

Harland and Wolff was nationalised from 1977 to 1989 when it was sold off. In recent years 75 per cent of the shipyard’s work has been based in renewables. The workers already have the skills required to contribute to the transition to renewable energy sources.

The need for this work is obvious, but with the company sticking to the whims of profit nationalisation is urgently needed—both to protect workers’ jobs and for the planet.

By Matilda Fay

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