Cheers as Harland and Wolff workers return to work

Harland and Wolff employees have returned to work after the sale of the closure-threatened shipyard.

There were cheers as the remaining staff walked through the gates in Belfast at 9am.

It followed a nine-week campaign which saw a worker-led round-the-clock occupation of the historic site – where Titanic was built – after it was placed into administration over the summer.

Workers claimed victory earlier this week when it was announced that a buyer had been found.

Harland and Wolff has been bought for £6 million by InfraStrata, a London-based company that specialises in energy infrastructure projects.

Steel worker and GMB shop steward Barry Reid described Thursday morning at the shipyard gates as “the day we prayed would come”.

“Everybody is ecstatic at what has happened, we believed in ourselves, we believed in the company, we have been proved right,” he said. “It’s a great day for the workers of Northern Ireland.”

Shadow Northern Ireland secretary Tony Lloyd and Ulster Unionist MLA Andy Allen were among a number of supporters who turned out.

Steel worker and Unite shop steward Joe Passmore addressed the workers briefly before they walked through the shipyard gates.

Harland and Wolff shipyard saved
Workers return to the shipyard (Niall Carson/PA)

“What we have achieved has been historic,” he said. “Every one of us needs to be extremely proud of ourselves.

“We can see what we are going to achieve when we go through there – it’s going to set the world alight.

“It’s the new Harland and Wolff, we’re the community that is going to build that new Harland and Wolff, so believe in yourselves and be very proud of yourselves.”

To cheers, he added: “Now, let’s get back to work.”

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