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Workforce at Harland and Wolff Vote in Favour of Industrial Action

11th June 2024
Industrial Action: the Harland and Wolff shipyard in east Belfast with its iconic cranes. Afloat notes this week (11-13th June) the company is exhibiting at Seawork 2024 held at the Mayflower Park in Southampton.
Industrial Action: the Harland and Wolff shipyard in east Belfast with its iconic cranes. Afloat notes this week (11-13th June) the company is exhibiting at Seawork 2024 held at the Mayflower Park in Southampton. Credit: Harland&Wolffplc-facebook

At the historic Harland & Wolff Group’s shipyard in Belfast, workers have voted in favour of carrying out industrial action.

The General, Municipal, & Boilermakers (GMB) union has said its members voted with a 98% majority after the shipbuilder, which has yards in Scotland and England, failed to make a pay offer for the year 2024/25.

As the Belfast Telegraph reports, staff members are due to meet with representatives of H&W on Tuesday afternoon about the future of the shipyard, which has two of the largest drydocks in Europe.

The GMB has said in recent months that there were internal disagreements within the government that were scaring the workforce after it was reported the shipyard in Queen’s Island could close – despite winning a £1.6 billion contract from the Ministry of Defence for ships to service the Royal Navy.

In May, it was reported that the Chancellor, Jeremy Hunt, was expected to block a £200 million taxpayer-backed financial support package that was designed to keep the shipyard in east Belfast afloat.

More on the development here.

Published in Shipyards
Jehan Ashmore

About The Author

Jehan Ashmore

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Jehan Ashmore is a marine correspondent, researcher and photographer, specialising in Irish ports, shipping and the ferry sector serving the UK and directly to mainland Europe. Jehan also occasionally writes a column, 'Maritime' Dalkey for the (Dalkey Community Council Newsletter) in addition to contributing to UK marine periodicals. 

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Afloat will be focusing on news and developments of shipyards with newbuilds taking shape on either slipways and building halls.

The common practice of shipbuilding using modular construction, requires several yards make specific block sections that are towed to a single designated yard and joined together to complete the ship before been launched or floated out.

In addition, outfitting quays is where internal work on electrical and passenger facilities is installed (or upgraded if the ship is already in service). This work may involve newbuilds towed to another specialist yard, before the newbuild is completed as a new ship or of the same class, designed from the shipyard 'in-house' or from a naval architect consultancy. Shipyards also carry out repair and maintenance, overhaul, refit, survey, and conversion, for example, the addition or removal of cabins within a superstructure. All this requires ships to enter graving /dry-docks or floating drydocks, to enable access to the entire vessel out of the water.

Asides from shipbuilding, marine engineering projects such as offshore installations take place and others have diversified in the construction of offshore renewable projects, from wind-turbines and related tower structures. When ships are decommissioned and need to be disposed of, some yards have recycling facilities to segregate materials, though other vessels are run ashore, i.e. 'beached' and broken up there on site. The scrapped metal can be sold and made into other items.