Call for talks over ‘drastic action’ that led to BiFab job cuts

Battle for BiFab march (Pic: John Savage)
Battle for BiFab march (Pic: John Savage)

Fife’s politicians have called for urgent talks to try to save Burntisland Fabrications after news of shock redundancies.

Just eight workers remain at the local yard after the new owners axed 35 posts within weeks of taking over.

Canadian business, DF Barnes, handed the redundancy notices to workers on Friday.

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

The deal with DF Barnes raised hopes of a brighter future, with the Scottish Government also investing heavily to become a minor stakeholder.

Lesley Laird, MP for Kirkcaldy and Cowdenbeath demanded to know what issues has compelled the company ‘‘to take such drastic action so quickly.’’

She called for urgent talks over the weekend to assess the problems – and see what can be done to save the jobs ‘‘before time runs out.’’

She said: “News of another round of redundancies at BiFab is deeply disappointing and must be a terrible shock to workers, especially given DF Barnes’ takeover was heralded as so positive just a few weeks ago.’’

David Torrance SNP MSP for Kirkcaldy has contacted Paul Wheelhouse, Minister for Business, Innovation and Energy, to discuss the way ahead.

He said: “This is devastating news for the workers and their families.

“The purchase of BiFab and its yards at Methil and Burntisland in Fife and Arnish by DF Barnes gave hope to the workforce, and the local community, following months of despair and uncertainty. F“For this announcement to come so soon after the acquisition is huge blow to everyone involved in the ‘Battle For Bifab’.

“The company, its workforce and the Unions have my ongoing support and commitment; ensuring they are provided with long term financial security continues to be my absolute priority.”

Trades union leaders said the scale and speed of the redundancies had come as a shock.

Gary Smith, of the GMB, and Unite’s Pat Rafferty said in a joint statement: ““It means that some workers will be out of a job as early as two weeks’ time and most will be gone in three months.

“ We knew the road ahead would be hard and the need for new contracts is obvious but clearly a major problem has emerged in terms of the future prospects for fresh work over the last fortnight. “As a matter of urgency, we need to understand what those problems are and whether they can be overcome in the short term. We are working now with the employer and the Scottish Government to achieve this objective.”

Figures from the Scottish Government show that BiFab had 132 employees and 128 contractors just a week ago.