Bi-Fab bosses stay hopeful despite looming job fears

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TRADESMEN at Bi-Fab’s Fife Energy Park premises in Methil have been advised that job losses may have to be considered as the firm tries to steer itself through an uncertain spell.

Bosses say they are pursuing orders and trying to maintain a positive outlook, as they aim to keep as many men employed as possible.

However, workers were told on Friday that, while it was still “early days”, the temporary and permanent workforce may have to be evaluated, as the current climate was not too favourable.

Indications were that work would be more plentiful around 2014, said operations director Martin Adam.

But the company had to contend with a less secure three-year period until then – and prepare for the likelihood of being unsuccessful with tenders.

Mr Adam stressed no numbers of potential job losses were being tabled at this stage - it was a general message that the action may have to be considered.

“I think its fair that we share these things with the the workforce and the unions as early as we can,” Mr Adam told the Mail.

The company was doing all it could to secure orders, with its main interests still in oil and gas. Renewable industries were yielding less opportunities just now than Bi-Fab would like, added Mr Adam, but the momentum was there.

Although the workforce numbers had dropped fairly sharply from around 1100 last year to around 280 – with very few temporary employees – management remained confident about various aspects of Bi-Fab’s marketplace status.

“The company is expanding and we have done exceptionally well to get where we are today,” said Mr Adam.

Tradesmen had expressed concerns to the Mail about possible further cuts in the workforce, and that the firm may be looking to transfer some men to its site at Arnish in Stornoway.

Mr Adam indicated the viability of transfers may have be looked at but the interests of permanent workers had to take precedence.

Generally speaking, the local labour force was there, said Mr Adam – Bi-Fab just needed to secure contracts and hoped orders generated in the UK sector would stay in the UK sector.

Bi-Fab needed to “keep Fife alive” by keeping its employees in work and busy in work, he added.