Unions demand action to save skilled jobs at BiFab

Unions have called for action to prevent a 'hammer blow' to workers at a Scottish offshore engineering firm reported to be on the brink of administration.

Around 600 jobs at stake in Fife and on Isle of Lewis. Picture: Andy Buchanan/AFP/Getty Images

Reports suggest Burntisland Fabricators (BiFab), which employs around 600 staff at its yards in Burntisland and Methil in Fife and Arnish on Lewis, is at risk, despite securing a £100 million contract to supply an offshore wind farm less than a year ago.

BiFab, which has previously received financial support from the UK government, is building structures for the Beatrice offshore windfarm in the Moray Firth, a project that involves Dutch company Siemens.

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Unions said an emergency meeting would be held with members in Fife on Monday. GMB Scotland Secretary Gary Smith said: “This would be a hammer blow for BiFab’s workers and their communities in Fife and the Isle of Lewis, as well as the wider Scottish economy.

“It goes without saying that our members demand urgent answers from the employer about how it has ended up in this position less than a year after securing such a significant contract.

“We are in contact with the Scottish Government and the possibility of losing over 600 highly skilled and decent paid jobs doesn’t bear 
thinking about. Letting 
these workers and their communities go under is not an option.”

Unite Scotland leader Pat Rafferty said the Scottish Government “cannot stand by and watch BiFab being turned into an industrial graveyard”.

Mr Rafferty said he was seeking assurances from Scottish ministers about BiFab’s future. He added: “What we have here is a Scottish project for a Scottish energy company, sponsored partly by the Scottish Government which now has more than 600 jobs at stake. We need some straight talking here from the Scottish government, the Dutch concern, and BiFab.”

Scottish Labour’s economy spokesperson Jackie Baillie MSP said: “This announcement has left hundreds of skilled jobs at stake and the Scottish Government must take immediate action to try and save BiFab and keep these jobs in Scotland.

“We urgently need a task force set-up, including trade unions, to assess all the options available for saving BiFab.

“The only priority now is to save jobs, skills and yards from closure.”