DF Barnes say BiFab investment is ‘long-term commitment’

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The owner of troubled BiFab has said it is in it for the long-haul, despite cutting the number of jobs to the bone.

Canadian company, DFBarnes invested in the yards in Burntisland, Methil and Lewis in April, but has come under fire for since allowing the number of workers to dwindle to a mere handful after the last contract was completed.

Fife Free Press, July 19

Fife Free Press, July 19

This week, union GMB, said the yards were “effectively closed” after redundancy notices issued in May kicked-in.

But, in response to questions from the Fife Free Press, BF Barnes insisted the yards had a future – and “remained confident of success.’’

READ MORE How DFBarnes invested in BiFab

We asked Glenn Byrne, president, Jason Fudge and Sean Power, vice-presidents covering finance and business development, and Patrick Whittle, director of operations, the following questions.

What has DF Barnes done since making its investment in BiFab in April?

What is the company’s plans for the yards in Burntisland, Methil and Lewis - do they have a future at all?

Are there any orders imminent?

If there are none, does DF Barnes intend to close the yards and walk away?

What role do the yards play within DF Barnes’ organisation if they have no work to do?

What guarantees did DF Barnes give the Scottish Government as part of the rescue package for BiFab in April?

What is DFBarnes message to the towns and to the workforce in light of the redundancies?

READ MORE Jobs go at BiFab

The company’s PR operation responded with a statement last night.

It said DF Barnes ”absolute focus” was on finding new work for the yards which once employed 400 workers with another 1000 contractors – and ensure BiFAb remains a key player in Scotland’s marine energy business.

But it said “a laser sharp focus” was needed to deliver new work.

The statement said: “DF Barnes has made a long term commitment to supporting all three yards at Arnish, Burntisland and Methil.

“Working closely with the Scottish Government, our absolute focus is on securing new contracts that will strengthen communities in Fife and on the Isle of Lewis. We remain confident of success.

We work very closely with union organisations in Canada and throughout North America and we encourage regular dialogue with the relevant officials. We have adopted the same approach since acquiring BiFab.

We informed the trade unions in Scotland some months ago that, while there was a gap between projects, we would need to reduce the workforce.

DF Barnes has considerable experience in manufacturing machining and fabrication of complex offshore structures and systems worldwide. We believe that the high quality skills of Scotland’s workforce have a critical part to play in our development, but we need to maintain a laser sharp focus on attracting new orders in order to secure everyone’s future.’’

The Scottish Government, a minority shareholder following April’s deal to save the yards, said this week that Ministers were “in regular contact” with BiFab – but it also made it clear that key issues such as staffing were a matter for the bosses to sort out.

A spokesman said: “Ministers have made a long term investment in BiFab.

“However they do not participate in operational management decisions and staffing levels and office arrangements are a matter for BiFab to consider.

“Ministers were clear at the point new ownership was secured that conditions would remain challenging for the yards and that new contracts would have to be won to secure future work at the yard.

“Ministers have confidence that everything possible is being done to secure new contracts and restore employment to previous levels.”