Ferguson Marine workforce boosted as it battles to complete ferries

Derek Mackay has met with new recruits at the re-nationalised Ferguson Marine shipyard.
Derek Mackay has met with new recruits at the re-nationalised Ferguson Marine shipyard.
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A pledge to increase employment at the nationalised Ferguson Marine shipyard has resulted in 17 new jobs, with a further ten to be recruited, the Scottish Government announced today.

The yard, which is in the final legal process of being taken into public ownership, will also see 14 apprentices complete their training this month, who will be taken into the workforce, as it battles to get the construction of two overdue ferries completed.

READ MORE: Rescued Ferguson shipyard could create more jobs

The future of the Clyde yard was plunged into doubt earlier this year, after a bitter stand-off with publicly-owned ferry firm Cal Mac over construction of two new ships. Costs on the original £97m contract spiralled with neither side prepared to meet the additional bill, resulting in administrators being called in.

Finance Secretary Derek Mackay has already set out plans to nationalise the yard top secure the 300 jobs at stake, with the government deciding to take over when three private commercial operator offers were rejected by administrators.

He had also previously suggested that the workers who had been made redundant as Ferguson Marine faced administration, may be rehired.

The Port Glasgow yard had faced closure five years ago, but was saved by SNP economic adviser and billionaire businessman Jim McColl, who then won the public contract to build the two ferries for Cal Mac. However as costs mounted, the Scottish Government loaned £45m to Ferguson Marine in an attempt to get the ferries completed - money it may now have to write off.

One ferry, MV Glen Sannox, is more than a year late and the second, Hull 802, is nearly two years behind schedule.

Today Mr Mackay said the boost to the workforce was as a result of his focus on "ensuring completion of the two public sector ferries at the best value for money for the taxpayer, while also working towards the delivery of the other vessels under construction at the yard, and in doing so, securing jobs for the workforce through continuity of employment."

He added: “Recruiting more staff to Ferguson Marine is a significant step forward in working towards completion of the two CalMac ferries, as well as achieving the best possible outcome for the yard and its employees.

"Visiting the yard has enabled me to meet with some of the new recruits and time-served apprentices, to hear about the work they are doing, and to assure them that we are doing all we can to ensure the future of the shipyard.

“While we continue to work with the administrators to bring the yard into public ownership, work on the vessels is progressing, and the additional staff being recruited will play a key role in this work.

“Establishing a revised timetable for the completion of the two ferries remains one of the main tasks for the management at the shipyard, and we will be able to update further on this in the coming weeks.

“While there is still more to be done, our actions have ensured that there will be a future for Ferguson Marine.”

READ MORE: Derek Mackay confirms ‘nationalisation’ plan for Ferguson Marine shipyard
The public ownership of the yard has been welcomed by unions who believe it secures its future.

GMB Scotland Secretary Gary Smith said: "While we are clear that there is no quick fix for Ferguson’s and that the real hard work is still in front of us, this is the right thing to do.

“The workers at Port Glasgow are ready to serve the country. Now let’s get on with the business of building the ships that Scotland needs.”

And Regional Secretary for Unite the Union Kenny Jordan said: “Unite and Confederation of Shipbuilding and Engineering Unions (CSEU) Scotland welcome the positive progress that Ferguson Marine will continue to build ferries in Port Glasgow giving an opportunity to expand the current workforce and the completion of apprenticeships that will assist future skill requirements.”