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TGWU Union rep Billy McCracken:
"Delays are causing worry among workers"
 real 28k

Wednesday, 26 July, 2000, 06:09 GMT 07:09 UK
Union fears over Belfast shipyard
Harland and Wolff
At H&W 280 workers were given redundancy notices
One of the main unions representing workers at the Belfast shipyard Harland and Wolff has expressed fresh concern about its future.

On Wednesday, the yard's parent company, Fred Olsen Energy, announced record losses of about 8m for the second quarter of the year, most of which it attributed to the shipyard.

The Transport and General Workers' Union said workers were worried about the future of the yard which last month gave redundancy notices to 280 workers.

The notices resulted from a lack of orders despite the yard winning a major contract.

We're hoping everything finalises soon, so that we can get back to some sort of stability

Billy McCracken

Billy McCracken from the T&GWU said employees were worried that orders would not materialise.

"At this moment in time with meetings with management, everything is still very upbeat," he said.

"But because it's taken longer than we anticipated, worry is starting to come in and once that starts, the fear factor then comes in with the 'what if?' scenario.

"We're hoping everything finalises soon, so that we can get back to some sort of stability."

Harland and Wolff has been facing financial difficulty and an empty order book for some time, but won a 300m order for four roll-on-roll-off passenger vessels in May.

Although H&W also secured a letter of intent for building two luxury liners, it said it had no work to offer the men being laid off until the new contracts started.

Record losses

The company, which employs about 1,500 people, said it was still tendering for work.

In March, the entire H&W workforce was put on protective notice of redundancy and a number of workers were also put on short time working.

Despite a restructuring to try to ease its cashflow problems, the yard's long-term future remains insecure.

The immediate threat of closure was lifted with the signing of a contract with Bahamas-based firm Seamasters International for four sophisticated passenger vessels.

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See also:

08 Jun 00 | Northern Ireland
Shipyard lay-off despite new orders
10 May 00 | Northern Ireland
'Time to rebuild yard's reputation'
10 May 00 | Northern Ireland
Shipyard wins new order
21 Apr 00 | Northern Ireland
Shipyard 'broke even'
20 Apr 00 | Northern Ireland
Navy order lifeline for shipyard
19 Apr 00 | Northern Ireland
Plan to aid ailing shipyard
09 Mar 00 | Northern Ireland
The yard that built the Titanic
08 Mar 00 | Northern Ireland
Redundancy notices at shipyard
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