Hope for BiFab work after EDF meeting announced

BiFab workers have had a difficult time.
BiFab workers have had a difficult time.

BiFab is set to miss out on work in fabricating wind turbine jackets for the £2 billion NnG offshore wind farm – work which is instead expected to go to Indonesia, even though the idle BiFab yards sit just 10 miles from the proposed site of the wind farm.

However, it emerged at the public meeting in Buckhaven last week that there are still hopes BiFab could get work from the wind farm.

GMB Scotland secretary Gary Smith told the room: “We hope the key players will get round the table and hammer out some sort of agreement that will bring work we desperately need in Fife. It won’t be all the jackets but it will be something.”

But, Mr Smith warned that this “is a moment for us as a country”, adding: “If we do not get work into the BiFab yards, we will not have any renewable industry of any consequence in Scotland.”

The news was announced at a packed public meeting in Buckhaven last week, attended by trade union representatives, politicians from all parties, former BiFab workers and local residents – the only notable absence was that of Matthieu Hue, CEO (UK) of EDF Renewables.

He had been invited along to the meeting to face questions from the public, but his designated seat remained empty.

But, Pat Rafferty, Unite Scotland regional secretary, said: “The message to EDF – if you’re not coming to us, we’ll come to you.”

Everyone at the meeting was invited to write their messages to EDF on huge sheets of paper at the back of the hall.

Campaigners pledged to ‘storm that bastion’ – EDF’s Edinburgh HQ – on July 5, in the hope of securing work for the BiFab yards in Methil and Burntisland, when the comments will be delivered.

Dave Moxham, deputy general secretary of the STUC, who hosted the meeting, said he had received calls from around the world about the campaign, and believed that EDF has been listening.

“They may not be here, but they are beginning to listen,” he said. “This campaign is working, it is really taking hold. I believe that this is a campaign that can win.

“We have got an alliance of people who are all part of that future. We’re their worst nightmare.”

Michael Sullivan of GMB, however, criticised the recent statement from EDF which claimed that ‘Scottish company currently has the capability of to manufacture and supply all the steel work for the NnG project’.

“We do have capability,” he said. “We have the workforce. We have a yard fit for purpose.”

One theme of the meeting was unity, as politicians from all parties showed their support for the campaign.

Fife Council co-leader, Labour councillor David Ross, speaking for himself as his colleague, SNP councillor David Alexander, told the room: “Fife Council are 100 per cent behind your campaign. We have the skills. What we need is the jobs to put those skills to work.”

Cllr Alexander said after the meeting: “Our communities deserve to benefit from these contracts. At the same time we have to get the message out to the market that we are ready to build whatever they want at the right price and at the required quality and will deliver at the required time.

“BiFab deserves a share of this contract with other opportunities at Inchcape and Seagreen ready to follow.”

A spokesperson for EDF said: “We understand that the NnG project is seen as critical to securing more work for the yard and we are working hard to make that a reality.

“The issue is far bigger than our project alone and we hope a range of bodies including us, industry groups, the trade unions and the Scottish and UK Governments can come together to develop a long term plan for BiFab to ensure success.”

To keep up-to-date with the campaign, visit www.facebook.com/ReadyForRenewal.