Bosses at financially-stricken engineering firm BiFab have welcomed a new deal to safeguard jobs and say the move has secured a longer term future for the business and its workforce.
Martin Adam, managing director, said directors of the firm have been seeking to agree an immediate financial solution to safeguard the company’s future.
Mr Adam said the directors are pleased to confirm a solution has now been agreed – following talks with the First Minister and all parties involved at the weekend – which will allow BiFab to start to return to normal trading.
He said tough decisions have been made: “We are very pleased to report that we have been able to secure the future of BiFab and its workforce,” he said.
“I would like to thank the efforts of all the key stakeholders, including the Scottish Government. This has been a very difficult week for the business and all those connected with it, but I’d like to take this opportunity to thank the workforce and the unions, and all those suppliers who have continued to work with us, for their invaluable support.
“We hope that this support continues over the coming weeks whilst we get the business to return to full normal trading. We will be speaking to the unions and workforce on Monday, and communicate with the suppliers over the course of next week. ”
Jan Willem van der Graaf, chief executive officer of Seaway Heavy Lifting (SHL), the Dutch contracter which allegedly instigated the financial dispute by not paying for contract work already completed, said: “Seaway Heavy Lifting is pleased to confirm that a rescue package for BiFab has now been endorsed by all stakeholders, with support from the Scottish Government.
“We have worked very hard along with the other stakeholders to find constructive solutions to support BiFab. We appreciate the role that the Scottish Government has played in reaching a positive solution for all.
“Seaway Heavy Lifting will continue to always treat its suppliers fairly, with respect and integrity and we look forward to BiFab succesfully completing the remainder of the Beatrice jacket fabrication.”
Meanwhile, the GMB and Unite leaders, Gary Smith and Pat Rafferty, praised the role of the Scottish Government and First Minister Nicola Sturgeon, in brokering the deal and the resolute stand taken by the BiFab workers to convince everyone they were determined to fight for their jobs and their communities.
The union leaders Gary Smith and Pat Rafferty said: “The background to the saving of the yards, in these difficult circumstances, is the coming together of all the major parties to agree a deal to make a shared financial contribution guaranteeing that BiFab would not go into administration.
“The deal also assures that the cash flow of the company will now allow the current contract to be completed, with the same workforce.
“Make no mistake these yards would be closed today if it wasn’t for the dignity and determination of the workers and their families in Fife and Lewis to save their jobs and industry.
“With their futures on a knife edge they worked for nothing stayed strong and resolute and by staying united they have won their future.”
They added: “Further, the Scottish Government said they would leave no stone unturned and their efforts have been pivotal in bringing BiFab back from the brink.
“Both the First Minster Nicola Sturgeon and the Cabinet Secretary Keith Brown secured the co-operation of all the partners and interests involved to create a deal.”
Lesley Laird, Kirkcaldy MP, said she was delighted the Scottish Government has successfully secured a deal for BiFab which will see the SHL contract through.
She said: “The GMB and Unite Unions ran a brilliant campaign, and the workers and their families showed extraordinary commitment in the fight to save both their jobs and the company.
“It’s vital we now develop a longer-term plan for BiFab to ensure it can flourish in the renewable energy sector in the years to come.
“The £1.4bn Neart Na Gaoithe project was given a final green-light just earlier this month. BiFab must be in a position to be able to seize a role in helping deliver this infrastructure and retain its position as a standard-bearer of Scottish engineering excellence.”
Ms Annabelle Ewing MSP, member of the Scottish Parliament for the Cowdenbeath constituency, also welcomed the announcement by the First Minister that, after two days of intense discussions, a deal has been reached to save BiFab from administration.
Ms Ewing said: “This is fantastic news that will be a huge relief for my constituents employed by BiFab and the whole workforce.
“The Scottish Government leapt into action as soon as the company’s problems became apparent and the First Minister came home early from an international conference in Germany to lead negotiations.
“Along with the Cabinet Secretary for the Economy and Fairwork and the Minister for Business, Innovation and Energy she met with Bifab, Seaway Heavy Lifting, SSE, Siemens, and the partners in the Beatrice Offshore Windfarm project as well as with Unite and the GMB in order to broker an agreement that plls BiFab back from the brink of going into administration.
“Huge praise is due to BiFab’s workforce whose dignity and determination were underlined by their decision to continue working despite their being no guarantee that they would be paid.”
She added: “Well done to everyone involved in this speedy and welcome agreement and I look forward to more positive news as further work is done to secure the longer term future of these extremely important jobs.”