UK: Hundreds of jobs at risk as BiFab faces closure

BiFab Arnish facility

UK-based offshore fabrication yards owned by BiFab are facing closure, which will bring about the loss of 260 jobs. 

Union leaders at the BiFab marine engineering yards in Fife and Arnish on the Isle of Lewis on Tuesday expressed their dismay at the possible closure of the yards.

According to Unite the union, management at the yards told the trades unions that they will be issuing redundancy notices to the core workforce on Tuesday, February 13, giving 45 days notice of the closure of the yards.

Some 260 jobs are to go by early summer with the possible closure of the yards completely by the end of June, the union said.

BiFab management told the trades unions that the first redundancies would start in May and the closure would be completed by the end of June. These timescales can only be reversed if new contracts can be established for the yards, Unite said.

Unite’s regional officer, Bob McGregor, says: “So much has been done to save these yards until now. The workers there have fought for their future and it is difficult to believe that it can now be snatched away from them. The closures of these yards will turn these areas into an industrial graveyard. The prospect fills us with dismay.”

To remind, last November the BiFab yards were threatened with closure as the company appeared to be running out of money as a result of a payments dispute with a major sub-subcontractor on the Beatrice Wind farm contract for the Cromarty Firth.

The workers at BiFab occupied the yards and called for Scottish Government intervention to save them. The Industry minister Keith Brown and the First minister, Nicola Sturgeon eventually managed to broker a deal involving all the major contractors to save the yards.

As a response to the news of BiFab yards closure, Scottish Green MSPs John Finnie and Mark Ruskell on Tuesday wrote to the government’s economic development agencies urging them to step up efforts to secure new orders in light of warnings that the BiFab marine engineering yards in Fife and on Lewis could close by the end of June.

Finnie and Ruskell, who represent the Western Isles and Fife, are asking the enterprise agencies to attend a cross-party meeting of MSPs to discuss what actions can be taken to support BiFab and the wider offshore renewables supply chain.

Mark Ruskell, Energy spokesperson for the Scottish Greens, said: “Scottish Enterprise and HIE must step up their engagement to ensure maximum support for the BiFab workforce both in the short-term and long-term. It’s not in the renewable industry’s interests for BiFab to go down, so all angles need to be covered in attempts to safeguard these valuable jobs in Fife, on Lewis and in the wider sector across Scotland.”

Offshore Energy Today Staff

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