Statement by the Communist Party of Ireland
9 August 2019
The Communist Party of Ireland expresses its solidarity with the workers at the Harland and Wolff shipyard in Belfast and welcomes the action taken by them in defence of their jobs.
Harland and Wolff should be nationalised. This could provide tens of thousands of jobs for workers in Ireland. The demise of the shipyard is a direct result of the drive by monopoly capitalism to seek out greater profits, shifting manufacturing to the Global South in the insatiable search for maximum profits by exploiting local unregulated workers in sweatshops for poverty pay.
Imperialism has played its part in the difficulties that the shipyard’s present owners, Dolphin Drilling, are experiencing as a result of the global crash in oil prices in 2014 resulting from the geopolitical power struggle to control the production of oil.
The British government’s national shipbuilding strategy, launched in September 2017, with its declared intention “to end the industry’s decades old boom and bust nature as well as to sustain thousands of jobs,” like most of capitalism’s solutions, is an abject failure.
We welcome the fact that, despite more than a century’s experience of bigotry in the history of Harland and Wolff, working people from both communities joined together against the closure of the shipyard and demanded its nationalisation. This is a very encouraging sign for the working class.
So far, those appeals have fallen on the deaf ears of the British Tory government in London. It is a harsh lesson, but it has to be understood that British imperialism has no friends, only interests. It has no loyalty to anyone, only to its interests.
There is a long tradition in our country of heavy engineering. These skills should be harnessed in the interests of solving the global environmental catastrophe that the world is being driven towards by this profit-driven system. Any future use of these shipbuilding yards should be for non-military shipbuilding and engineering, not contributing to imperialism’s global military strategy of permanent tension and wars.
Harland and Wolff has been involved in recent years in the development of wind energy. The production of equipment for this industry should be continued and expanded into other areas, such as wave power.
The building of a sustainable engineering base in Ireland can be achieved only by developing an all-Ireland industrial strategy, a strategy that is environmentally sustainable and democratically controlled and accountable to working people.