600 Belfast shipyard job losses

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The Independent Online

Belfast's troubled Harland and Wolff shipyard is to axe half its workforce in a desperate bid to stay afloat, according to union leaders.

Belfast's troubled Harland and Wolff shipyard is to axe half its workforce in a desperate bid to stay afloat, according to union leaders.

They say 600 jobs are to go at the famous yard as it battles to stay in business, just weeks after losing a tender to build a new Northern Ireland ferry.

The GMB union described the losses as a "body blow" which could devastate the local economy.

A GMB spokesman said: "Ministers must take immediate action to support the workers facing redundancy."

But the yard's owner, Fred Olsen Energy of Norway, denied making any such announcement, saying cuts to its 1,250 workforce were "pure speculation".

A company spokesman insisted there had been no meetings with unions and denied making any announcement about lay offs at the yard where the Titanic was built.

Unions have feared possible losses, believing the yard's owners were planning a major restructuring of its business.

Hopes were raised just last week after an arbitration tribunal awarded the company £21.8 million after a contract dispute with a Texan oil services firm.

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