Scotland business

BiFab workers given redundancy notices, say unions

BiFab workers Image copyright PA

Most of the remaining shop floor workers at the two BiFab fabrication yards in Fife have been given redundancy notices, say union leaders.

It comes three weeks after a takeover by a Canadian engineering firm - brokered by the Scottish government.

The end of the contract building platforms for offshore wind turbines has left the company with no work.

According to the GMB and Unite unions, 35 out of 43 core workers at Methil and Burntisland are affected.

The Scottish government said it was continuing to work with the yards' Canadian owners to "restore BiFab to its place at the centre of Scotland's marine energy industry".

Future prospects

A similar reduction of staffing at the Arnish yard on the Isle of Lewis has already taken place.

The three sites employed about 1,400 people before BiFab announced at the end of 2017 was set to go into administration.

Union leaders said: "The scale and speed of these redundancies was not expected", but they vowed to continue their "Battle for BiFab".

Image copyright Thomas Nugent/Geograph
Image caption Work has come to an end at the Burntisland yard

In a statement, the GMB and Unite's joint secretaries Gary Smith and Pat Rafferty said: "It means that some workers will be out of a job as early as two weeks' time and most will be gone in three months.

"We knew the road ahead would be hard and the need for new contracts is obvious, but clearly a major problem has emerged in terms of the future prospects for fresh work over the last fortnight.

"As a matter of urgency, we need to understand what those problems are and whether they can be overcome in the short term. We are working now with the employer and the Scottish government to achieve this objective."

Unions said in February that they had been told that 260 jobs were to go by the end of May, with the yards facing full closure a month later.

But the Scottish government said the deal with JV Driver and DF Barnes would allow the yards to seek new fabrication and construction work in the marine, renewables and energy sectors.

'Hard work ahead'

The takeover brought work building platforms for offshore wind turbines in the outer Moray Firth.

That contract has now been completed and it is believed it could take months to find more work.

The company has been contacted by the BBC for comment.

A Scottish government spokesman said: "The acquisition of BiFab by DF Barnes represents a significant step forward in our efforts to restore BiFab to its place at the centre of Scotland's marine energy industry. But there is a lot of hard work ahead.

"As ministers made clear when new ownership was secured while the current contract comes to an end, and efforts go into winning new work, there will continue to be difficult times for the three yards. But the commitment of DF Barnes gives BiFab the best chance of winning future contracts and securing new work.

"Nonetheless, this announcement will be hugely concerning for the workers affected and their families - we are in regular contact with the unions and we stand ready to provide support through our Partnership Action for Continuing Employment (Pace) initiative. By providing skills development and employability support, Pace aims to minimise the time individuals affected by redundancy are out of work."

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