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BiFab workers failed by UK and Scottish governments, unions claim

The company has entered administration.

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Opposition parties claim there was a ‘lack of political will’ to save the firm (Andrew Milligan/PA)

Opposition parties claim there was a ‘lack of political will’ to save the firm (Andrew Milligan/PA)

Opposition parties claim there was a ‘lack of political will’ to save the firm (Andrew Milligan/PA)

Trade unions and opposition politicians have hit out at the UK and Scottish governments after Burntisland Fabrications (BiFab) went into administration.

The firm took the decision after saying ministers had refused to provide more funding and nationalisation was ruled out.

Calls have now been made for “all options” to be considered to save jobs at the company’s sites.

STUC general secretary Roz Foyer said: “Today’s announcement is the latest stage in a sorry saga of government and corporate failure, with the victims being workers and their families from Fife to the islands.

“These failures began over a decade ago with false promises of Scotland becoming ‘the Saudi Arabia of renewables’ without an investment and industrial strategy to match.

“No statement of commitment to move forward and create clean energy and renewables supply chain jobs will be believed unless government and big business accept their previous failings.”

The “Saudia Arabia of renewables” tagline was used by Alex Salmond when he was first minister.

Trade union secretaries Gary Smith and Pat Rafferty, from GMB Scotland and Unite Scotland respectively, said: “BiFab’s administration exposes the myth of Scotland’s renewables revolution as well as a decade of political hypocrisy and failure, in Scotland and the rest of the UK.

“Shamefully the Scottish Government has buried these hopes just in time for Christmas and they have worked together with UK Government in doing so.

“A decade on from the promise of a ‘Saudi Arabia of renewables’ and 28,000 full-time jobs in offshore wind manufacturing, we’ve been left with industrial ruins in Fife and Lewis.”

BiFab, which has yards in Burntisland and Methil in Fife as well as one on Lewis, had to be rescued by the Scottish Government in 2017.

The firm had been preparing to put up to 500 employees back to work on a wind turbine scheme when it emerged ministers could no longer provide the necessary financial support.

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Scottish Labour’s Alex Rowley has called for action to save the firm’s sites (Jane Barlow/PA)

Scottish Labour’s Alex Rowley has called for action to save the firm’s sites (Jane Barlow/PA)

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Scottish Labour’s Alex Rowley has called for action to save the firm’s sites (Jane Barlow/PA)

The Scottish Government had argued that state aid rules prevented it from bailing out the company, but ministers have committed to securing a new future for the BiFab sites.

The Scottish Greens claim other European countries have state-supported supply chains.

The party’s energy spokesman Mark Ruskell said: “This has come about because both the UK and Scottish governments lack the political will to protect jobs and commit to the renewables revolution Scotland can deliver.

“It’s time for them to put together a public ownership model that will finally deliver jobs for BiFab.”

Scottish Labour economy spokesman Alex Rowley also condemned the “lack of political will” as he called for action to stop “one of the jewels in the crown of Scottish manufacturing” being lost.

He said: “The failure of the SNP Government to work with the company and the trade unions to find a way forward is unforgivable and the consequences of that failure is that Scotland will continue to lose out on thousands of jobs in the renewable sector.

“All possible options available to salvage the jobs must be put on the table.”

Scottish Liberal Democrat leader Willie Rennie added: “This was a golden opportunity to connect our battle against climate change with jobs in industrial communities across the country, but the Government has wasted over £52 million creating a couple of hundred temporary jobs.

“The Bifab debacle has been little more than a very expensive publicity stunt.”

PA


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