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Yards have no further work

BiFab plant expected to close with 260 job losses

Keith Brown

Keith Brown addressed the BiFab workers outside the parliament (pic: Terry Murden)

The BiFab marine engineering yards in Fife and Lewis are expected to close and more than 260 workers will be handed redundancy notices on Tuesday.

Union leaders have expressed their dismay at the likely shutdown of the yards just weeks after the Scottish government brokered a deal to keep them open.

However, that deal gave no long term guarantees and management at the yards told the trades unions today (Monday) that they will be issuing redundancy notices to the core workforce on Tuesday 13th, giving 45 days notice of the closure of the yards.

Some 260 jobs are to go by early summer with the possible closure of the yards completely by the end of June.

Unite’s regional officer Bob McGregor said: “So much has been done to save these yards until now.

“The workers there have fought for their future and it is difficult to believe that it can now be snatched away from them. The closures of these yards will turn these areas into an industrial graveyard. The prospect fills us with dismay.”

Last November the BiFab yards were threatened with closure as the company appeared to be running out of money because of a payments dispute with a major sub-subcontractor on the Beatrice Wind farm contract for the Cromarty Firth.

The workers at BiFab occupied the yards and called for Scottish Government intervention to save them. The Industry minister Keith Brown and the First minister, Nicola Sturgeon eventually managed to broker a deal involving all the major contractors to save the yards. 

However, the Beatrice Wind farm contract is now coming to a close and BiFab is now running out of work. There has also been open speculation that the yards may be taken over by a major Canadian concern. Although there has been no official confirmation of these moves. 

Mr McGregor said: “We can’t say this is a total shock because work at the yard has been running down for weeks now.

“However all the interested parties, the company, the contractors, the unions and the Scottish Government, given what has been done so far, must surely look to have an eleventh hour intervention which can do something to save these jobs.”

Earlier today the BiFab management told the trades unions that the first redundancies would start in May and the closure would be completed by the end of June. These timescales can only be reversed if new contracts can be established for the yards.

Richard Leonard with Jeremy Corbyn in Penicuik

Richard Leonard and Jeremy Corbyn at Shottstown Miners Welfare (pic: Terry Murden)

The announcement emerged as Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn was addressing party workers in Penicuik, but he made no reference to the plant.

Scottish leader Richard Leonard, who joined him on the platform at Shottstown Miners Welfare, said the uncertainty surrounding BiFab echoed similar problems at the Lanarkshire steel mills.

“That’s why we need a proper industrial strategy,” he said, criticising the current policy of responding to problems instead of planning to avoid them.

He repeated pledges by Mr Corbyn to re-nationalise the railways and the Royal Mail.



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