1,400 jobs are dependent on the Scottish Government ending a contractual dispute between the financially stricken fabrication firm BiFab and the Beatrice Windfarm Project contractor Seaway Heavy Lifting (SHL).
That's the view of the joint trade unions representing the interests of over 600 members across BiFab’s three yards in Fife and Lewis, following topical questions on the future of jobs in the Scottish Parliament this afternoon (Tuesday 14 November).
Cabinet Secretary for Economy, Jobs and Fair Week, Keith Brown MSP, stressed the Scottish Government would leave ‘no stone’ unturned’ in their engagements with all stakeholders involved in BiFab.
Under question by cross-party MSPs, Mr Brown acknowledged ‘disputed payments’ between BiFab and SHL and in a new development revealed an undetermined role by the UK Government in the contract, which trade unions are now pursuing clarity over.
GMB Scotland Secretary Gary Smith said:
“Time is of the essence if administration is to be avoided and we need the Scottish Government to get to the root of this contractual dispute between BiFab and SHL.
"The role of SHL must be brought under the spotlight. How much do the disputed figures amount to, what is the role of the UK government in this process and how much is the taxpayer on the hook?
"Today our members are working for free to defend their jobs and families. We need that same determination and desire to be matched in the corridors of power and their influence brought to bear on the private interest groups behind this project.
"Political support is needed but a taskforce alone won’t save these jobs – our members want to see political actions that help secure livelihoods and protect local communities.
"So everyone with the best interests of the country at heart needs to pull together now and battle for BiFab - letting these workers and their communities go under is not an option.”
Unite Scotland Secretary Pat Rafferty said:
“There are 1400 jobs at stake here along with the future of Scottish renewables manufacturing - and what we have is the questions piling up relentlessly and nobody giving out any answers.
"This is a Scottish project for SSE, the Scottish energy giant, for a massive Scottish windfarm with a Scottish company delivering on an agreed contract.
"Where we are now is that a costs dispute with the Dutch owned main contractor SHL seems to be holding the future of all of this to ransom.
"Make no mistake if BiFab does go into administration the trades union will not stand by and watch these yards being asset stripped.
"The Scottish Government has to get answers and get them now from BiFab, SHL, SSE - and Westminster to boot.”
Contact: Peter Welsh, GMB Scotland Communications, on 07976 447077 or Bob Wylie, Unite Scotland Communications, on 07703 755150