BBC News reports that the UK government has said that the crisis at the Harland and Wolff shipyard in Belfast is "ultimately a commercial issue".
Unions say the yard is at imminent risk of closure and have called for it to be nationalised.
A government spokesperson said there was "every sympathy for the workers". They added that the government will "do all it can" to offer support.
It is understood administrators are now expected to arrive on Monday.
The firm's Norwegian parent company Dolphin Drilling is having serious financial problems and put Harland and Wolff up for sale late last year.
There were exclusive negotiations with a potential buyer but they cooled in the last two weeks.
For more on the 'commercial issue' click here.