Crunch talks as unions fight ‘bat­tle for Bifab’

HOPE: Meet­ing be­tween Gov­ern­ment and lead­ers as re­dun­dancy no­tices are is­sued

The Courier & Advertiser (Angus and The Mearns Edition) - - NEWS - Craig smith

Union lead­ers are cling­ing to hope trou­bled fab­ri­ca­tion firm Bifab can still be saved – although they have warned the clock is tick­ing down to­wards clo­sure.

Re­dun­dancy no­tices have been is­sued to work­ers at the yards in Ar­nish on the Isle of Lewis and Burn­tis­land and Methil in Fife, start­ing a statu­tory 45-day con­sul­ta­tion process.

How­ever, talks be­tween the Scot­tish Gov­ern­ment and po­ten­tial new in­vestors re­main on­go­ing and trade union rep­re­sen­ta­tives will meet with Cabi­net Sec­re­tary Keith Brown again next week.

GMB Scot­land has called for the Scot­tish Gov­ern­ment to work with the Bifab trade unions to en­sure Scot­tish man­u­fac­tur­ing yards can prop­erly com­pete for re­new­able in­fra­struc­ture projects in future.

GMB Scot­land or­gan­iser Alan Ritchie said: “The bat­tle for Bifab con­tin­ues. All is not lost and there is still hope, but time is of the essence.

“Next week, we have a crunch meet­ing with the Scot­tish Gov­ern­ment and there­after we will have a better un­der­stand­ing about new in­vest­ment com­ing into the yards and the long-term future.

“We have al­ways been clear that our yards should not be strug­gling and what we need is an in­dus­trial strat­egy to end the feast and famine in con­tract work that plagues our man­u­fac­tur­ing sec­tor.

“The im­me­di­ate chal­lenge is straight­for­ward – all par­ties in­volved need to pull to­gether again to de­fend these work­ers and their com­mu­ni­ties be­cause let­ting them go un­der is not an op­tion. No­body should be un­der any il­lu­sions about how tough this is on our mem­bers and their fam­i­lies but ev­ery­thing that can be done to se­cure the future of Ar­nish, Burn­tis­land and Methil is be­ing done.”

Kirk­caldy MSP David Tor­rance de­scribed this week’s news as “highly re­gret­table” and “ex­tremely wor­ry­ing”, but pledged his sup­port to ef­forts to find ad­di­tional work.

“The com­plex struc­tures pro­duced by the highly skilled work­force at Bifab play a vi­tal role in the re­new­able sec­tor and I be­lieve the timely com­ple­tion of the cur­rent con­tract will fur­ther strengthen the com­pany’s po­si­tion in the re­new­able sec­tor,” he said.

“I have also con­tacted Min­is­ter for Busi­ness, In­no­va­tion and En­ergy, Paul Wheel­house and have been given as­sur­ances that av­enues for ad­di­tional work to bridge this gap and po­ten­tial ex­ter­nal in­vestors for the yard are be­ing ac­tively pur­sued.

“The Scot­tish Gov­ern­ment also re­mains in con­stant com­mu­ni­ca­tion with Bifab man­age­ment and the Man­u­fac­tur­ing Ad­vi­sory Ser­vice.

“It re­mains my ab­so­lute pri­or­ity to en­sure work­ers and the lo­cal com­mu­nity are pro­vided with long-term fi­nan­cial se­cu­rity.”

csmith@the­courier.co.uk

Pic­ture: PA.

Work­ers over­look the Bifab yard at Methil as unions pledge to keep fight­ing for the jobs there and in Burn­tis­land, de­spite re­dun­dancy no­tices be­ing is­sued to work­ers.

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