Ship­yard is ‘ready’ to be na­tion­alised

The Scotsman - - FRONT PAGE - By SCOTT MACNAB

The Scot­tish Gov­ern­ment is “ready and will­ing” to take a strug­gling Clyde ship­yard into pub­lic own­er­ship, the Fi­nance Sec­re­tary has said.

Derek Mackay said it was es­sen­tial to act with­out de­lay to save 350 jobs at the Fer­gu­son Ma­rine yard in Port Glas­gow, which an­nounced last week it is poised to go into ad­min­is­tra­tion.

Fer­gu­son Ma­rine could soon be in pub­lic own­er­ship af­ter the fi­nance sec­re­tary said the scot­tish gov­ern­ment is “ready and will­ing” to take over the strug­gling Clyde ship­yard.

Derek Mackay said it was es­sen­tial to act with­out de­lay af­ter the com­pany said last week it was poised to go into ad­min­is­tra­tion, plac­ing 350 jobs at risk.

The gov­ern­ment also re­mains open to other in­vestors to en­sure that two fer­ries are com­pleted at the yard.

Fer­gu­son Ma­rine’s sole share­holder, Jim Mc­coll, was strongly crit­i­cal of the move to­wards pub­lic own­er­ship at the week­end.

He said na­tion­al­i­sa­tion made no eco­nomic sense, sour­ing re­la­tions be­tween the man who saved the yard from clo­sure in 2014 and the gov­ern­ment he once ad­vised.

The firm has been locked in dis­pute with gov­ern­men­towned ferry firm Calmac over ma­jor over­runs on the “fixed cost” £97 mil­lion con­tract.

Mr Mackay said: “Our pref­er­ence has been to identify vi­able com­mer­cial op­tions to keep the yard go­ing and to fin­ish the ves­sels. No such solutions have come for­ward.

“The Scot­tish Gov­ern­ment has now in­di­cated to all rel­e­vant par­ties that we are ready and will­ing to take Fer­gu­son Ma­rine into pub­lic own­er­ship and de­liver the fer­ries to se­cure the con­tin­ued em­ploy­ment of the work­force.

“There re­mains a process to go through to se­cure the trans­fer of the yard to the Scot­tish Gov­ern­ment, and we are hope­ful that all par­ties recog­nise the im­por­tance of com­plet­ing that trans­fer as quickly and as smoothly as pos­si­ble.”

Mr Mc­coll un­suc­cess­fully sought a deal with the Scot­tish Gov­ern­ment to share the over­runs, be­lieved to be al­most as much as the £97 mil­lion agreed con­tract cost.

The ex­tra costs have been put down to the numer­ous changes to the de­sign.

Mr Mccall has warned that na­tion­al­i­sa­tion will cost the gov­ern­ment money.

“The way they are act­ing right now is eco­nom­i­cally dam­ag­ing for the lo­cal area and Scot­land,” he said.

“Any­body with a Stan­dard Grade in eco­nomics would be able to work this out, it’s not rocket science.”

He even raised the prospect of le­gal ac­tion, warn­ing that “all op­tions are on the ta­ble”.

The gov­ern­ment has al­ready con­tro­ver­sially loaned Fer­gu­son Ma­rine £45m to help it di­ver­sify, in­clud­ing £15m which was ini­tially kept se­cret.

Tory trans­port spokesman Jamie Greene hit out at the SNP’S “reck­less mis­man­age­ment” of the ferry con­tract.

“The way to se­cure jobs and the yard’s fu­ture is by en­sur­ing that the ferry con­tract con­cludes by re­solv­ing the dis­pute over cost over­runs,” he said.

“Na­tion­al­is­ing Fer­gu­son Ma­rine, even if it is pos­si­ble to do so, sim­ply raises more ques­tions than an­swers and of­fers no cer­tainty to the busi­ness at all.

“It’s pretty clear that Derek Mackay has no clue what­so­ever what the cost to the tax­payer will be, over and above the tens of mil­lions of pounds al­ready spent on this bun­gled con­tract.”

Gary Smith, Scot­tish gen­eral sec­re­tary of the GMB Union, ar­gued that the yard did have a fu­ture.

“The truth is we are go­ing to have to re­new the fleet of Calmac fer­ries be­cause frankly they’re clapped out,” he said.

“It’s pretty clear Derek Mackay has no clue what the cost [of na­tion­al­is­ing Fer­gu­son Ma­rine] to the tax­payer will be, over and above the tens of mil­lions of pounds al­ready spent on this bun­gled con­tract”

JAMIE GREENE Tory trans­port spokesman

0 Derek Mackay said it was es­sen­tial to act with­out de­lay af­ter the firm said it was poised to go into ad­min­is­tra­tion, plac­ing 350 jobs at risk

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