MP urges DFBarnes and Scottish Government to reveal plans for BiFab

Lesley Laird MP (Pic: George McLuskie)
Lesley Laird MP (Pic: George McLuskie)

The Scottish Government and BiFab’s Canadian owners have been urged to reveal their plans for the yards.

The call from Lesley Laird, MP for Kirkcaldy and Cowwdenbeath, comes as union leaders prepare to meet senior management after flying across the Atlantic.

Ms Laird, who is also Shadow Scottish Secretary, described the recent redundancies at Burntisland, Methil and the Isle of Lewis as “deeply concerning’’ and she has written to Derek Mackay, Scottish Government Minister for Finance, Economy and Fair Work, asking what support he is giving DF Barnes to turn the company around.

READ MORE DFBarnes pledge to BiFab

She wrote: “Did the Scottish Government anticipate the workforce being reduced to this extent when a takeover deal was secured and, as a stakeholder in the firm, what powers does the Scottish Government have to hold DF Barnes to account for its actions?”

Ms Laird said she “can’t simply sit back and be mollified with qualified statements’’ of future success given the scale of redundancies which have hit BiFab in recent months.

She added: “Workers in Burntisland, Methil and Arnish, who fought so bravely and determinedly to keep their jobs in those yards, also deserve better than that.

READ MORE The battle for BiFab

“They need to know the reasons why this ‘rescue deal’ failed to live up to their expectations and what realistic prospects lie in store for those yards in the near future.

“With no ready workforce on the payroll, I’m worried about BiFab’s ability to compete successfully for contracts and I look forward to learning how DF Barnes and the Scottish Government propose to overcome that situation.

“These are strategic sites and key industry for Scotland and we need some clear answers – and a clear strategy.”

Union leaders are in Canada to meet with BiFab’s bosses. They are due to have talks today (Thursday)

Gary Smith, GMB Scotland secretary and Pat Rafferty, Scottish secretary, Unite the Union, say they are hopeful the business can be turned around.

A statement from the duo said: “We remain optimistic that the outlook for restoring significant levels of employment at the BiFab yards is achievable, if work can be secured.

“The new owners, alongside the Scottish Government, need to work with us to build trust through regular and meaningful dialogue on the future.

“Only by pulling together will we deliver on our ambitions for people and employment in Fife and on Lewis.”