Government to ‘pull out all the stops’ to save BiFab
Economy Secretary claims it is in Scottish Government’s interest to save company
The Scottish Government has pledged to “pull out all the stops” to secure a future for BiFab and its workforce.
Up to 1,400 jobs are on the line at the engineering company’s yards in Methil, Burntisland and Arnish, with unions and management locked in talks yesterday as efforts to stave off administration continue.
While “disputed payments” between parties in the private sector have been blamed for the situation, Economy Secretary Keith Brown said it was in the Scottish Government’s interests to try to ensure a positive outcome.
Responding to a question from Kirkcaldy MSP David Torrance, Mr Brown said: “Discussions are ongoing with the Scottish Government, Scottish Enterprise and the company and this government is fully exploring all options available to save the company and the jobs which depend on it. The Scottish Government and Scottish Enterprise are continuing these discussions and we’re encouraging all parties to work constructively to find a solution.
“I do appreciate that this is a very concerning time for the workforce, but this government is committed to doing everything we can to find a positive solution to this situation.”
Unions have claimed the engineering firm’s financial difficulties are a result of the main Dutch-owned contractor, Seaway Heavy Lifting (SHL), not paying the company for contract work already completed, with Unite Scottish secretary Pat Rafferty saying BiFab was being “held to ransom”.
Green MSP Mark Ruskell urged ministers to provide assistance to the renewable energy company in taking up SHL’s offer “to support BiFab’s workforce” and include dialogue with the Dutch government.
“It’s not in the renewable industry sector’s interest for BiFab to go into administration,” he said.
Mr Brown said there were no immediate plans for any discussions with the Dutch government, but acknowledged SHL was “central to the contract” itself.
“There has been some movement in terms of the willingness of different partners to try and come to a solution,” Mr Brown added.
Mid Scotland and Fife Labour MSP Claire Baker and Tory counterpart Alexander Stewart both suggested delays in payments had contributed to BiFab’s problems, but Mr Brown said it was more a case of “disputed” payments.
SNP Mid Fife and Glenrothes MSP Jenny Gilruth asked if consideration had been given to setting up a taskforce in response to the current situation.
Mr Brown replied: “I think at this stage our focus is on making sure the company stays viable and the jobs stay in place and we have all the resources and the different parties available to do that.”
A spokesman from SHL said the firm welcomed the intervention of the Scottish Government and was working extremely hard to find ways of supporting BiFab.
“We remain supportive of a rescue package that is endorsed by and involves all stakeholders,” he added.
“SHL has always been keen to support BiFab’s workforce but we need a longterm plan from BiFab to ensure financial stability and project completion.”
Up to 1,400 jobs are at risk at BiFab.