1,400 jobs saved

BiFab closure threat lifted after funding deal agreed

Battle for BiFab

BiFab workers marched through Edinburgh to save their jobs (photo by Terry Murden)

A threat of huge job losses at the Burntisland Fabrication yards has been lifted after a financial package was secured that will avoid it falling into administration.

Work will continue on the current contract for the Beatrice Offshore Windfarm after Seaway Heavy Lifting, SSE and JCE Offshore agreed make further payments that will keep the yards open and ensure 1,400 workers are paid.

The Scottish Government has also indicated that it will, if necessary, make available a commercial loan facility to BiFab.

The agreement follows intensive talks over the last two days involving the various partners, Nicola Sturgeon, the First Minister, Economy Secretary Keith Brown and the Business & Energy minister Paul Wheelhouse.

The commercial agreement will see BiFab receive payments to alleviate immediate cash flow issues enabling the threat of administration to be lifted and ensuring the full funding of the Beatrice contract. Ministers recognise that work remains to be done to secure the long term future of the company.

The Scottish government ministers also met with Unite and the GMB unions to discuss the agreement and ministers will remain in close discussion with BiFab regarding longer term prospects for the company and the prospect of future contracts.

Ms Sturgeon said: “I am pleased that after an extensive series of talks over the last week and two days of intense negotiations we have been able to broker a commercial agreement that lifts the threat of administration from BiFab and allows work on the current contract to continue.

“In particular I welcome the moves made by Seaway Heavy Lifting, SSE and the partners in the Beatrice Project, JCE Offshore and Siemens to resolve this situation and enable BiFab to continue its work on this contract.

“Over the last seven days we have worked to ensure all partners understood the urgency of the position BiFab found themselves in and the part they could play in relieving the financial pressure on the company.

“Seaway Heavy Lifting and SSE in particular have chosen to back BiFab today to complete their contract and that is a real vote of confidence in the company and the workforce.

“I know that this has been an anxious time for people employed at BiFab, as well as their families and the wider communities of Burntisland, Methil and Arnish and the trade unions have ensured that the importance of this company was made clear to all companies involved.

“All companies including BiFab have had to take difficult decisions to secure this outcome. While this deal lifts the immediate threat of administration, we recognise that there is a lot of work still to do to secure the long term position.

“Ministers will continue to work with BiFab, the trade unions and industry partners to identify ways to secure the long term future of renewables manufacturing on these sites.”

Jan Willem van der Graaf, chief executive at Seaway Heavy Lifting said: “Seaway Heavy Lifting is pleased to confirm that a rescue package for BiFab has now been endorsed by all stakeholders, with support from the Scottish Government.

“We have worked very hard along with the other stakeholders to find constructive solutions to support BiFab. We appreciate the role that the Scottish Government has played in reaching a positive solution for all.

“Seaway Heavy Lifting will continue to always treat its suppliers fairly, with respect and integrity and we look forward to BiFab successfully completing the remainder of the Beatrice jacket fabrication.”

Pat Rafferty

Pat Rafferty: praised the role of the Scottish government (photo by Terry Murden)

The GMB and Unite leaders, Gary Smith and Pat Rafferty, praised the role of the Scottish Government and First Minister Nicola Sturgeon, in brokering the deal and the resolute stand taken by the BiFab workers to convince everyone they were determined to fight for their jobs and their communities.

They credited the joint efforts of all parties to make a shared financial contribution guaranteeing that BiFab would not go into administration. The deal also assures that the cash flow of the company will now allow the current contract to be completed, with the same workforce.

In a joint statement the union leaders said: “Make no mistake these yards would be closed today if it wasn’t for the dignity and determination of the workers and their families in Fife and Lewis to save their jobs and industry.

“With their futures on a knife edge they worked for nothing stayed strong and resolute and by staying united they have won their future.”

The union statement acknowledged the Scottish Government’s pledge to leave no stone unturned and said their efforts have been pivotal in bringing BiFab back from the brink. 

New Scottish Labour leader Richard Leonard said: “I welcome the fact that the combined pressure of BiFab workers, their trade unions and the public have forced a deal from the government. 

“As we await the details of the deal, we must ensure that it protects all the 1,400 jobs under threat now and in the future.”

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