Unions call for urgent talks with BiFab owners

Unions are set to meet with workers tomorrow (Thursday) to discuss the situation after redundancies were announced last Friday. Pic: Jon Savage Photography.
Unions are set to meet with workers tomorrow (Thursday) to discuss the situation after redundancies were announced last Friday. Pic: Jon Savage Photography.

Trade unions acting on behalf of workers at Burntisland Fabrications are calling for urgent talks with the firm’s new owners after a shock move saw fresh redundancies announced.

Representatives are also due to meet with staff tomorrow (Thursday) to discuss the situation following last Friday’s announcement to look at how many employees are going and when.

Just eight core staff remain at the yard in Burntisland after the new owners, Canadian firm D F Barnes, handed the redundancy notices to workers, revealing they were cutting 35 jobs – leaving just a few shopfloor workers for care and maintenance.

The shock development came less than three weeks after the north American firm took over after extensive negotiations with the Scottish Government.

BiFab has yards in Burntisland, Methil and the Western Isles, but with an empty order book, fears are growing once again for its future.

Trade unions have vowed to continue the fight to save the yards.

A spokesman for GMB Scotland told the Press: “We will be having a workplace meeting on Thursday (tomorrow) to look at how many people are going and when – for some people they will be out the door as soon as two weeks. We also want an urgent meeting with the new owners so we can understand where the company is going and what its strategy is. It is a question of minimising the short term pain as much as we can.

“We have no reason to suspect that the long term future of the yards is not positive. It is whether we can sustain the short term until new contracts come online.”

Yesterday (Tuesday), Fife MSP Claire Baker quizzed the Scottish Government on the redundancies during Topical Questions in the Scottish Parliament.

She called for the Scottish Government to work with Scottish Enterprise to ‘bridge the gap’ between orders at the yards to ensure jobs are not lost.

Ms Baker called for workers to be retained and retrained rather than made redundant. Highlighting recent examples in the steel industry, Ms Baker called for training and support for diversifying skills for workers within their current roles.

Speaking after the question, the Labour MSP said: “The shock announcement of redundancies on Friday left workers, trade unions, politicians and the wider Fife economy stunned.

“When the rescue deal was announced, we all accepted that there was still much work to be done to win new contracts but we felt confident that BiFab would be successful.

“Yet less than a month later the workers and Fife is dealt with the devastating blow that the vast majority of the core workforce is being made redundant and that there will only be eight remaining workers.

“The Scottish Government cannot wash their hands and put all the responsibility on DF Barnes, they have a stake in the company and a responsibility to these workers.”

She added: “We need to keep the skilled core workers at BiFab. Scottish Enterprise must step in a provide training and support for works. BiFab is a vital part of the local economy in Burntisland and Methil, we need to do all that we can to continue that.

“We have seen in the steel industry that there is a precedent. The Government can take actions to save these jobs and I am calling on them to do so.”