Union meeting over BiFab fears

A meeting is taking place in the Scottish Parliament to discuss future contracts for BiFab and safeguard the company's future.
A meeting is taking place in the Scottish Parliament to discuss future contracts for BiFab and safeguard the company's future.
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Union representatives are to meet with the Scottish Cabinet Secretary for Economy, Jobs and Fair Work at the Scottish Parliament today (Thursday) to discuss the future of engineering firm BiFab.

Alan Ritchie of the GMB union said there are concerns about what will happen to workers at the yards in Burntisland and Methil when the current contract work on Beatrice – a turbine wind farm situated in the Moray Firth – comes to an end in March.

Kirkcaldy MP Lesley Laird said the key priority is securing the comapny's future.

Kirkcaldy MP Lesley Laird said the key priority is securing the comapny's future.

He said they are to meet Keith Brown MSP to discuss other contracts that are coming up in Scotland which the firm would be ideally suited to work on.

Mr Ritchie said the GMB met with BiFab workers in Methil last week and will update the workforce in Burntisland this Friday.

He said: “We had the campaign and then money from the Scottish Government to get this current contract finished. That will end in March so we are concerned about the future of the yards when that contract finishes.

“We are meeting with Keith Brown at the Scottish Parliament to discuss contracts that are being placed at the end of the year - they are all in Scotland.”

He added: “We had a meeting in Stornoway and we addressed the workforce in Methil last week. We are due to meet with the workers in Burntisland this Friday (tomorrow) to update them on where we are.”

A Scottish Government spokesperson said it was working with bosses at BiFab to secure new business for the company: “After helping BiFab to avoid the threat of administration, the Scottish Government has been in regular contact with the company, investors and relevant parties to ensure a strong, sustainable future for BiFab and the people it employs,” he said.

“The Scottish Government and our agencies are working with the management team at BiFab to secure new business and investment in the company, and through this we hope to provide the best means of creating and safeguarding jobs for the longer term for communities in both Fife and the Isle of Lewis.”

Meanwhile, it has been revealed that German firm EEW, one of BiFab’s co-contractors, is taking legal action against BiFab.

An EEW spokesman said: “We confirm that EEW is taking legal action against BiFab due to substantial outstanding payments. No further comments can be made on those ongoing proceedings.”

No-one from BiFab was available for comment.

Lesley Laird, Kirkcaldy MP, described the legal challenge as ‘disappointing’. She said: “The legal challenge is disappointing, but perhaps not unexpected, but that should not detract from the key priority - securing the future, not just of the yard, but the high-level skills and capability and identifying a pipeline of future orders.

“Only this week I contacted BiFab and the Trade Unions to find out the latest position given that the rescue deal was due to be reviewed again in the early part of this year. I would expect that dialogue has been on going and am looking to find out what has been agreed.”

She added: “This is an important industry not just for Fife but for Scotland’s future ambitions in this market.”