Ferguson shipyard could be nationalised to save jobs, says Scottish Government

The Ferguson shipyard at Port Glasgow, which employs 350 people, could be nationalised. PIC: John Devlin/TSPL.
The Ferguson shipyard at Port Glasgow, which employs 350 people, could be nationalised. PIC: John Devlin/TSPL.
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The Scottish Government is considering nationalising the beleaguered Ferguson shipyard in order to save jobs.

Finance Secretary Derek Mackay said taking the Port Glasgow site, which is due to enter administration, into public ownership was an option.

The business has been involved in a long running dispute over the construction of two ferries for CalMac which has lead to £45m in Holyrood loans despite the vessels not being completed.

READ MORE: Ferguson shipyard on the Clyde faces administration

The Scottish government has said its priorities include completing the ships and keeping shipbuilding at the site, where around 350 people are employed.

Today, Mr Mackay said: "Public ownership is an option. It is one of the options that we've been looking at.

"We wanted to try and find a commercial proposition that would work. We're disappointed that we've not been able to do that with the company owners.

READ MORE: Everything you need to know about Clyde shipbuilding

"But we've made a commitment around the jobs, around the vessels and a future for the yard and that's what we're working on intensively right now."

Mr Mackay said the government had "a range of possibilities and options open to us" and added: "The objectives I'm setting out for Ferguson's specifically is to complete those vessels currently under construction - because we need them, to secure employment at the yard and to give the yard a future."

In August, attempts by one of Scotland's richest men to attract the Scottish government to take a stake in the shipyard failed.

Jim McColl's Clyde Blowers Capital has owned the Ferguson Marine yard in Port Glasgow since buying it out of administration in 2014.

Mr McColl and Clyde Blowers believed they had legal assurances that would have allowed the Scottish government to take an equity stake in Ferguson.

A Scottish Government spokesman said earlier this month that the plan posed too many risks for the public purse.

Gary Smith, the Scotland organiser for the GMB Union, told BBC Scotland that taking the yards into public ownership was the right thing to do.

He said: "The only realistic option, the only way to secure the future of the yard, and most importantly for us - our members' jobs, is for the Scottish government to step in and nationalise the yard. I think that's what will happen and I think it's the right thing to do and those yards have got a very big future."