Contract controversy

SNP’s green pledge a ‘grotesque insult’ to BiFab

Bifab protest

BiFab will ‘wither on the vine’ says Labour (pic: Terry Murden)

Labour has described the SNP’s commitment to supporting green energy jobs as a “grotesque insult” to workers at the BiFab yards following the government’s failure to underwrite a key wind farm contract.

The SNP Conference called on the party to support a “green, just and resilient” recovery from Covid-19…through the development of skills and creation of good, green jobs in our communities.”

It comes just 24 hours after BiFab management said it was”perplexed and disappointed” by the withdrawal of financial support from the Scottish and UK governments which claimed there was “no legal route” to support BiFab’s hopes of securing £30m of work for the £2 billion Neart Na Gaoithe (NnG) windfarm project.

Bifab accused the two governments of being “untruthful and inaccurate” over allegations that the company’s Canadian owner is to blame by not investing in the yards.

Scottish Labour economy and jobs spokesman Alex Rowley today said: “This statement from BiFab management makes it clear that the SNP and Tories have decided to allow BiFab to wither on the vine without exploring all options open to the company.

“It confirms that the SNP Government’s pleas of ‘no alternative’ are simply weasel words from a party with no political will to secure skilled jobs in Scotland for the renewables sector.

“That the same SNP is this weekend speaking about a ‘Just Transition’ is a grotesque insult to the workers and communities in Fife and the Western Isles.

“This is an act of sabotage against Scotland’s manufacturing base that has already been decimated thanks to the SNP’s non-existent industrial strategy. 

“We urgently need twin UK and Scottish Parliament inquiries to get to the bottom of why the Tories and SNP have made this unfathomable decision, and set out the alternatives that are clearly available.”

Inquiry call

Former Prime Minister Gordon Brown has slammed the Tories and the SNP for what he described as the ‘betrayal’ of workers at BiFab.

Mr Brown, who was the local MP, called for twin UK Parliament and Scottish Parliament inquiries into the withdrawal of the £30m guarantee that would have safeguarded 450 jobs and gained Scotland a foothold in North Sea wind platform work.

Gordon Brown

Gordon Brown: betrayal of the workforce (pic: Terry Murden)

He said the workforce ‘have been thrown to the wolves’, and the contract has been lost, without fully exploring reported Chinese interest in investing in the Fife yards.

Mr Brown said: “This nothing less than a betrayal of the BiFab workers and Burntisland, and a betrayal too of promises of work for Fife and the rest of Scotland in the offshore renewable industry.

“This work has not been lost because Fife cannot do the work or did not win the work in open competition: it has been lost because after winning the work, the Scottish government pulled the plug on the company.

“450 skilled jobs are being sacrificed – and yet all the options for creating the 450 jobs have not been exhausted.

“I have seen the company’s plans to deliver on this £30m contract and know that Burntisland Fabrication can do the work. If the real issue is securing guarantees of future investment, I know of potential Chinese interest in investing in the Fife yards.

“There now needs to be an inquiry by the Finance Committee of the Scottish Parliament to look into why promises made a year ago have been unceremoniously ditched with claims that such support is against the legal advice that has never been explained or published.

 “There now needs to be UK parliamentary inquiries to explain why in the week that the Prime Minister promised a revolution in renewable energy, his government has walked away from a request to help save a vital contract.

“And the Scottish Parliament should urgently debate why, when our priority is North Sea renewables jobs, work that was won by BiFab in an open competition has been turned away, and a vital contract in offshore wind is being pushed overseas depriving Scotland of jobs at home.

“The two governments say a working party is still to meet to explore options for the future of the yards and to strengthen measures to support the renewables supply chain. One of these options has to be to restore £30m worth of work on the North Sea wind turbine jackets to Burntisland and Methil.”

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