Unite’s Steve Turner joined Harland and Wolff shipyard workers on August 1 – their fourth day of protests against the site’s closure.
The union’s assistant general secretary for manufacturing said he was proud to join “a fantastic team of workers determined to win a future for themselves, their families and community”.
Turner said the crisis at Harland and Wolff, which is due to go into administration on Monday, was part of a “manufacturing meltdown” in Northern Ireland and the rest of the UK.
In a message to prime minister Boris Johnson, who visited Northern Ireland yesterday, Turner said, “As a new prime minister you’ve got a number of challenges that are confronting you right now. Not least of which are in Northern Ireland.
“We’ve got a manufacturing meltdown with a for sale sign over Bombardier and indeed over Wright Bus and now of course Harland and Wolff threatened with administration as soon as Monday of next week.
“Our message to you is very simple: You need to pick up the mantel for Northern Ireland, you need to join with us, sit down and discuss how we save manufacturing in Northern Ireland and create a vibrant secure future, not just for those in work now but for future generations to come.”
During Johnson’s visit to Stormont, Harland and Wolff workers calling for the shipyard to be nationalised delivered a letter to the prime minister but were refused permission to meet him.
Harland and Wolff steelworker and Unite member Joe Passmore said, “If nationalising the shipyard is the issue here, you can call it whatever you want.
“We want the money. Back us up here, we don’t care how you dress it up, make it count.
“Because we are going to go down the drain next week and you are going to have to act now or we will be the start of British industry going down the drain.
“Stand up for your words Boris and mean what you say.”
On Friday, Belfast City Council will hold a emergency meeting on the future of the historic shipyard.
The crisis at the shipyard comes amidst a backdrop of Brexit uncertainty, with the PMI manufacturing survey released today showing “suffocating” UK factory output and the biggest production cut by manufacturers in seven years.
Unite is demanding the government secure UK manufacturing by taking a no deal Brexit off the table.