Workers at BiFab are to stage a ‘work-in’ to save 1400 jobs, as unions say the main Dutch contractor, Seaway Heavy Lifting (SHL), is guilty of holding the Scottish yards to ransom in a dispute over costs.
BiFab, the marine engineering firm operates three yards at Burntisland and Methil, in Fife, and Arnish in Lewis. BiFab has filed notice of administration due to a “cash-flow crisis”.
Trades unions at the company have been told that BiFab’s financial crisis is a direct result of the SHL not paying BiFab for contract work already completed. Unions have learned this involves “tens of millions”.
Following meetings at the yards today the workforce voted unanimously to continue working until further notice to give the company time to sort the financial crisis. BiFab have indicated that at present the company has insufficient funds to pay wages and salaries this week.
“As far as we can see BiFab is being held to ransom by the main contractor,” said Unite Scottish secretary Pat Rafferty.
“It beggars belief that 1400 jobs are now in jeopardy over who owes how many millions of pounds to whom. The workers have taken a courageous stand to save these jobs. The Scottish Government must match that commitment by doing whatever it takes to safeguard the future of the yards”.
The BiFab contract is for the construction of a 25 turbine wind farm in the Moray Firth for the Scottish energy giant SSE.
“This is a Scottish contract for a Scottish company sponsored by the Scottish government,” Rafferty noted. “And it looks as if the whole project is about to come crashing down, and with it 1,400 jobs – due to a financial dispute with the main Dutch contractor, SHL. There’s too much at stake for us to stand by and watch this happen.”
Pat Rafferty and Gary Smith, the leader of the GMB union in Scotland are due to have a crisis meeting with the Scottish industry minister, Keith Brown MSP, at the Scottish Parliament on Wednesday (November 15).
- Pic by Department of Energy and Climate Change