Union calls on Scottish Energy Minister to collaborate in battle to save 1,400 Bi-Fab jobs

The BiFab yard at Arnish.
The BiFab yard at Arnish.

GMB Scotland last night urged the Scottish Government and industry stakeholders to pull together in the battle to save the financially-stricken fabrication firm Bi-Fab.

A total of 1,400 jobs both – direct and the supply-chain – at Bi-Fab yards in Fife and the Isle of Lewis are under threat after management told trade unions that the company has ‘no money’ left to pay the wages of their staff.

It is understood that that cash flow problems stem from a dispute over payments between BiFab and the £2.6 billion Beatrice wind-farm project contractor Seaway Heavy Lifting (SHL).

Last year BiFab secured a £100 million contract from SHL for the manufacture of 26 wind- turbine platforms, sustaining employment at the Burntisland and Methil yards in Fife and also at Arnish on the Isle of Lewis.

These platforms are destined for the large-scale offshore wind turbine farm being built in the Moray Firth by, among other owners, Perth-based utility SSE – which also owns a 15% equity stake in Bi-Fab.

The company said it is facing a “critical cash position” linked to ongoing contracts and has filed a notice of its intention to appoint administrators.

Gary Smith, GMB Scotland Secretary, said: “This is a critical moment for the future of BiFab, its workers and the communities these yards support.

“Yesterday we were told that despite the evident problems, it would be business as usual and our members should report to work as normal.

Gary Smith
Gary Smith

“But we were then told that there is no money to pay our members wages, stemming from a cash flow problem with Seaway Heavy Lifting.

“We’ve got to battle for BiFab – and the Scottish Government must lead this effort – as workers and their communities going under is not an option.

“Everyone with an interest in these workers, their communities and the welfare of the Scottish economy must pull together now.”

BiFab managing director Martin Adam said: “We are very disappointed that we have found ourselves in the current position which has arisen as a result of a challenging situation in respect of our ongoing contracts which have been providing much-needed employment locally in Scotland.

“We are seeking a rapid solution with our key stakeholders and the Scottish Executive to our current cash flow position and are hopeful that this can be achieved quickly to secure the future of the business and the 1,400-strong workforce.”

Scottish Energy Minister Paul Whitehouse, commented: “We are dealing with a very sensitive situation, with a very significant company that is important to the Scottish economy.

“The Scottish Government is working extremely closely with the management team at BiFab to help deliver a positive outcome here.”

COMMENT:

Here are two suggestions for the Scottish Energy Minister:

  • 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

14 Nov 2017

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