Will Harland & Wolff be able to take charge of the logistics and port renovation in Puerto Argentino?

In addition to the financial problems that the company with which the kelpers want to build a port are facing, the Financial Times warns about the workers' threat to paralyze the shipyard if there are no salary improvements.

4 de July de 2024 08:54

The new large port that the invading government is planning in the Malvinas Islands.

At that time we warned that the project could founder due to the firm's recurring financial difficulties and that directors of the company , world famous for having built the Titanic, warned English officials that in the "worst case scenario, if they could not secure the guarantee of the credit for about 200 million pounds, will lead to job losses and the need to cut and reconsider some projects, such as the one referred to the Malvina Islands .

The new large port that the invading government is planning in the Malvinas Islands will replace the one that has been operating since the post-war era and that was also built by the same shipyards on the coast of Puerto Argentino. The new port facilities may be used for activities linked to oil exploitation, fishing,  tourism, science,  research and defense .

In March, CONICET researcher and professor at the Torcuato di Tella University, Daniel Kersffeld , commented in Página|12 that “the construction of an infrastructure project could place the dispute over the Malvinas Islands and the Argentine presence in them on another level. the South Atlantic" , describing that "the new port will involve the construction of four large floating docks, which will be connected by a road and a causeway built separately, all of which will require an initial investment of more than 150 million dollars (120 million pounds)” .

The newspaper El Sureño stated that the occupation government intends to “have a replacement structure by the end of 2027, when it reaches the end of its functional life. The new facility will also be a floating dock system and will be in the same location. “The requirements for the new facilities were established in consultation with the industries that depend on the port.”

Kersffeld considers that Harland & Wolff established itself as one of the most important companies linked to the defense industry and British geopolitics , a condition that allowed it to be rescued from recurring threats of bankruptcy due to deficient or failed commercial operations. In recent times, the emblematic shipyards have maintained “a growing intervention in the NATO military industry, either supporting the British authorities, as well as other governments associated with the Atlantic alliance.”

It is clear that the interference of Harland & Wolff in the construction of the new port in Malvinas with the capacity to accommodate deep-draft ships and even submarines will imply, finally, greater intervention in the NATO region and also in the military alliance made up of Australia, United Kingdom and United States (AUKUS). According to  The CONICET researcher "despite its current weaknesses, the United Kingdom is trying to strengthen its presence in the South Atlantic to, in this way, reinvent an old, practically rusty empire" , stating that "apparently, it would not be alone in that task" .

Financial difficulties

At the beginning of February, the newspaper El Cronista reported that Harland & Wolff had signed a contract to build three support vessels for the Royal Navy . It also emerged that it would not do it alone, since in order to fulfill the order, the shipyards partnered with the Spanish state company Navantia - through the subsidiary company, Navantia UK - and with the British company, BMT Group . It should be noted that Harland & Wolff has not built any ships since 2003 , but the British government still awarded it the juicy contract for 1.6 billion pounds (about 2 billion dollars).

Shortly afterwards, the Financial Times reported that “the Treasury has reservations about approving a guaranteed £200m taxpayer-backed loan” to Harland & Wolff , “while three rival ministries (Defence, Trade and Business) , and the Northern Ireland Office) are willing to move forward.”

The dilemma is great and opens a gap within the British cabinet , since Harland & Wolff has a solid competitor , the British consortium formed by Babcock International, BAE Systems, Cammell Laird and Rolls-Royce , known as Team UK , which was one of the four consortiums that were finalists in the Royal Navy tender and that, as recently emerged on social networks, is closely following the developments that may occur with the business that the United Kingdom Ministry of Defense will grant to Team Resolute as preferred bidder for the program to build three logistics vessels for the Royal Navy Auxiliary Fleet.

The threat of strike

Adding to the financial problems in June was the brewing conflict that Harland & Wolff has with its workers . Talks with the union began mid-last month as workers voted to strike in a pay dispute that threatens to paralyze the shipbuilder . The news was reported by the Financial Times and expresses the concern in the United Kingdom.

The pressure from the workers of the Belfast giant, added to the uncertainty regarding financial difficulties and loan guarantees that do not arrive , led the CEO of Harland & Wolff, John Wood , to publicly acknowledge that they will have to “change strategy.”

The union denounces that the last salary agreement expired in December and that a new agreement has not yet been approved and demands that if it is reached, it be retroactive to January for all Harland & Wolff staff.

Wood told the Financial Times that he still hopes to secure the export development guarantee before the general election on July 4 , despite the now undeniable divisions in the British cabinet that cannot agree on granting the loan. that the historic shipyards demand to face and fulfill their obligations.

“The brutal reality is that, without Harland & Wolff… the United Kingdom cannot fulfill its commitment to defense,” Wood said in an interview, adding that the company constitutes “a strategic asset for any political party that forms the next government.” .


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