Bi-Fab workers to march on Holyrood over SSE’s Beatrice wind-farm wages dispute

GMB Scotland and Unite the Union have organised a march and demonstration to be held today at Holyrood in support of 1,400 workers at risk of losing their jobs in a trade dispute involving a flagship offshore wind farm being developed by SSE.

Hundreds of Bi-Fab workers and supporters will assemble at 10am at Edinburgh Castle and march down the Royal Mile to the Scots Parliament, where a rally in support of the workers will be held outside Holyrood urging the Scottish Government and MSPs of all parties to work together to fight for the future of the fabrication firm.

Pat Rafferty, Unite Scottish secretary, and Gary Smith, the leader of the GMB union in Scotland, want the Scot-Govt to ‘pull out all the stops’ to help a Fife-based manufacturer over a cashflow crisis caused over a commercial dispute between Bi-Fab and Dutch-owned contractor Seaway Heavy Lifting not paying for contract work already completed.

Dave Moxham, Deputy General Secretary of the STUC, which is supporting the workers in the battle to save Bi-Fab, said: “Letting these workers and their communities go under is not an option. We must stand shoulder to shoulder with the B-iFab workers.”

“The BiFab workers have courageously decided to continue to work to complete their current contract, despite having no guarantee that they will be paid.

”Trade unionists are manning the gates so that equipment and materials cannot be removed from the Methil yard.”

The Bi-Fab contract is for the construction of 25 turbine wind platforms in the Moray Firth for the Perth-based utility SSE, which owns a 15% equity stake in Bi-Fab.

SSE declined to respond to inquiries to make a comment or give an explanation about the dispute – despite being irrevocably involved.

The trade unions now believe that SSE, the largest stakeholder in the £2.6 billion Beatrice Windfarm Project, holds the key to resolving the contractual payments dispute between BiFab and SHL.

UNITE Scottish Secretary Pat Rafferty said last night: “The Scottish Government told us they can see a path out of this crisis. But it’s a path blocked by Scotland’s biggest energy company SSE remaining at loggerheads with the main Dutch-owned contractor SHL.

“It’s time that Alistair Phillips-Davies <the CEO of SSE> came out of the shadows on this crisis used his powers to get this sorted. He needs to rein in SHL and guarantee these jobs and the future of the communities in Fife and Lewis affected by it.

COMMENT:

Here are three simple suggestions for the Scottish Energy and Industry Ministers for prompt and effective action to resolve the dispute:

Contact Bi-Fab’s banks to help arrange a temporary bridging loan

Contact Perth-based utility SSE to get the temporary bridging loan on even better terms

‘Persuade’ SSE to impose binding arbitration on SHL and Bi-Fab to resolve the dispute

16 Nov 2017

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