Harland and Wolff staff lock themselves inside shipyard after it is put up for sale

Harland & Wolff

Workers at Harland and Wolff shipyard locked the gates yesterday and called on Boris Johnson to nationalise the site amid fears over its future.

Protesters at the site in Belfast said that they would refuse to reopen the gates until their jobs were guaranteed. Harland and Wolff, which has about 130 staff and specialises in marine and energy engineering, was put up for sale by Dolphin Drilling, its Norwegian parent company, which filed for bankruptcy last month.

Trade union leaders have called on the prime minister to intervene, urging Boris Johnson to help to save the yard by taking it into public hands. Susan Fitzgerald, the regional co-ordinating officer for the Unite union, said: “Mr Johnson will this week make his first visit to Northern Ireland as PM, and Unite is again calling on his government to nationalise Harland and Wolff.”

The shipyard had tens of thousands of staff when it was a hive of production a century ago. It was the site of the Titanic’s construction.

Joe Passmore, a steelworker, told BBC News: “It was always assumed the management and politicians would come up with a plan but so far they’ve failed, but we aren’t prepared to see this place fail when we know it can be viable and vibrant.”

Picture: Rebecca Black/PA