Call for action as BiFab loses out on latest offshore contract

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Hopes of work for BiFab’s Fife yards have been dashed, sparking calls for a “level playing field” from unions.

Lucrative contracts for the fabrication of turbine jackets and floating platforms from the Moray East and Kincardine offshore wind farm projects were awarded to firms in the UAE, Belgium and Spain, leaving the Burntisland and Methil yards empty-handed – an outcome they branded “an absolute scandal.”

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They fear BiFab’s Canadian owners, DFBarnes, cannot realistically compete for major contracts on the basis of cost against European and international competitors who are heavily backed by state subsidies and sovereign wealth funds.

Trades unions GMB and Unite have urged Nicola Sturgeon, First Minister, and Gordon Lindhurst MSP, convenor of the Scottish Government’s economy, energy and fair work committee asking what steps they have taken to ensure offshore developers commit to domestic manufacturing – and for an inquiry to identify any barriers which have prevented Scottish based firms from capitalising on a renewable manufacturing bonanza.

And on the same day the UK Government launches a New Offshore Wind Sector Deal with aspirations of tripling employment in the sector, GMB and Unite says the empty yards in Fife are “a sobering reminder of long-term political failure at both Holyrood and Westminster” and claim Scotland has lost out on £2.8b of offshore renewables contracts.

In a joint statement, Gary Smith, GMB Scotland secretary, Pat Rafferty, Unite Scotland secretary, said: “Ten years ago we were promised a ‘Saudi Arabia of Renewables’ but today we need political intervention to help level the playing field in Scottish offshore renewables manufacturing.

”The truth is that state funded European energy and engineering firms, backed by Far East finance and Middle East sovereign wealth funds, are carving-up thousands of jobs and billions of pounds from our renewables sector, and firms like BiFab are left fighting for scraps off our own table.

“That 100 per cent of the manufacturing of the turbine jackets for Moray East and five platforms for Kincardine will be done in yards outside of Scotland is an absolute scandal. This cannot continue unchallenged.”

The union leaders said there was no green jobs revolution in Burntisland or Methil, and said: “The Scottish Government and the public have a stake in BiFab and with it our renewables manufacturing future; we owe it to our ourselves to tackle the spaghetti bowl of vested interest groups that’s dominating our renewables sector and to fight for Scotland’s share.”