There’s power in the Union!


between two mail-shots, here is some very up – to date information you should have. I want to give this to you as personal as can be done in a mail, not as part of a newsletter!

I went to the Shipyard in Belfast yesterday to let the workers know that many people here in the North – West and especially all of us who are concerned with textile-making at Flax Mill are on their side and find their brave struggle to keep the world’s oldest shipyard, the jobs there – an incredibly valuable part of our history – encourageing and admirable.

A suggestion of our team at the mill was to present the workers and their union at the gate of H&W with a piece of Irish Linen and some red carnations (the symbol of worker’s struggle). We chose a hand-woven linen tea towel. Two great artists in Cookstown, Fiona and Tony hand-painted the union slogan “keep the shipyard – renationalise it” on the piece.
When I got there, Helen, a friend and great linen lover (and flax producer) had already left the towel at the gate – it was hung on the wall of the workers kitchen.

The response of the colleagues at the gate was one of unbelievable friendliness, they thanked me and were very emotional about our activity.
What impressed me most was the 100 % presence and support by all the shipyard workers and the flood of messages of solidarity by now from literally all over the world.

After detailed talks to some workers and their union reps I met a group of tourists on my way to the train station. They were shown all sorts of “Game of Thrones” bits and pieces, the “Titanic centre” etc. but nobody had told them about the struggle of the workers around the corner. It showed the almost surreal way, media operate, hiding the truth rather than spreading it.

Not all of them though:

– I would like to thank all those who reported on our activity, especially the editor of the “County Derry Post”, Orla Mullan, who ran our full press-release in this week’s edition (see below for link to pdf-format copy).

– Thanks also to Tony and Fiona from Cookstown who did the design on the tea towel, they have a lot on their plate, dropped everything to do this.

– Thanks to Helen from Moneymore. Between pulling flax in the endless rain and work at Queens University she found the time to go up to the shipyard with the tea towel.

– Thanks to Joe Bowers – who knows the Shipyard very well – for all the background information.

– Most of all thanks to the many who “equipped” me with messages of support when I went to Belfast.

What can we learn from this?
If the workers at H&W hadn’t taken control of the gates, the yard would be gone by now – it’s not and it will depend on the strength and determination of our colleagues and their unions and on the support they get, whether the struggle can be finally won!
It is looking good at this point – the many seem to be able to show the few their place for once – very encouraging!

Love over Gold

Marion Baur

Talk at the Flax Mill Open Day on Saturday, September 14th: Can the Shipyard be saved?
We have invited Ernest Walker from Belfast to give us a talk on the subject. Ernest has been in engineering all his working life, is a union activist and has been a worker’s representative for many years.
All details: Our coming newsletter with the latest news on Open Day and Yard Fest!
Book your place at this talk now – the interest is very big!
It will take place at 12 noon in the mill cottage.
Click to download Derry Post article on the shipyard in pdf format

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