BiFab ‘effectively closed’ as redundancies kick-in at yard

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BiFab is facing more turmoil as redundancy notices issued in May run out have run out – leaving the once vibrant yards with barely any staff.

Just seven staff have been offered part-time positions in a business which once employed 400 people with a further 1000 contractor workers in Burntisland, Methil and on the island of Lewis.

The Battle for BiFab - workers marched on Holyrood at the height of closure fears. Picture: Jon Savage

The Battle for BiFab - workers marched on Holyrood at the height of closure fears. Picture: Jon Savage

New owners, DF Barnes, the subsidiary of Canadian company JV Driver, which invested heavily in BiFab to stave off closure in April – a deal which saw the Scottish Government also become a minority shareholder – confirmed the job losses this morning.

That led trade unions to claim the yard were ‘“effectively closed.”

READ MORE How DF Barnes invested in BiFab

With no orders to work on, the few remaining staff will oversee maintenance and security.

GMB also claimed 12 senior managers from the original BiFab business will be fully retained by the new owners.

The moves are the latest blows to hit BiFab, one of Fife’s most important businesses and one that was meant to play a lead role in Scotland’s marine energy business.

But with the Beatrice windfarm contract for major subsea jackets completed – the only significant order on its books – the yards remain in desperate need of new orders, and hopes that the investment from Canada would create a new era appear to have been dashed.

DF Barnes spent months in negotiation with the Scottish Government before a deal was done at the eleventh hour following a determined campaign by the workforce to save the yards.

While they marched en masse to Holyrood, politicians were locked in talks with Nicola Sturgeon, First Minister, announcing the deal just as many feared BiFab would go under.

In April, Nicola Sturgeon, First Minister, said DF Barnes acquisition was “a key milestone for all three BiFab yards” but warned they were not out of the woods, stressing: “There is a lot of hard work ahead, and there is no magic bullet for these yards but the commitment of DF Barnes to securing a new future for the business at Burntisland, Methil and Arnish is a hugely positive step and I believe that gives BiFab the best chance of winning future contracts and securing new work.’’

Barely three months later and BiFab has been reduced to a handful of staff.

The GMB trade union claimed the latest announcements meant the yards were ‘‘effectively closed’’ – and hailed it as ”a dark day’’ for the Scottish economy.

And it hit out at the bosses “responsible for BiFab’s demise.’’

Alan Ritchie, GMB Scotland organiser, said: “We were promised a bright future by the new owners but the cold, hard truth is that these yards are now closed until new orders can be secured.

“There is also anger and resentment that some of the people responsible for the demise of BiFab have had their futures secured, while the workers who made the sacrifices to complete the Beatrice order have been steadily shown the door.

“Jam tomorrow is of no use to our members and their families. This is a dark day for Fife and Lewis, and for the Scottish economy. Whether there is any light in the weeks and months to come remains to be seen.”

A statement is expected from the Scottish Government.