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Fergusons shipyard faces renewed threat of administration with 350 jobs at risk

Parent company Clyde Blowers Capital, owned by Jim McColl, criticised Caledonian Maritime Assets Ltd and the Scottish Government over the news.

Ferguson Marine won the £97 million fixed price contract to build the MV Glenn Sannox and a second Hull 802 boat for CalMac (Caledonian MacBrayne/PA)
Ferguson Marine won the £97 million fixed price contract to build the MV Glenn Sannox and a second Hull 802 boat for CalMac (Caledonian MacBrayne/PA)

By Douglas Barrie, PA Scotland

Fergusons shipyard is facing a renewed threat of administration just years after the firm behind the site previously began the same process.

Around 350 jobs are at risk at the yard by the River Clyde in Port Glasgow which was previously in administration five years ago until it was bought by Clyde Blowers Capital (CBC).

Ferguson Marine Engineering Limited’s directors have served notice of their intent to go into administration, something which CEO Gerry Marshall said was done “with great regret and disappointment”.

He added: “This decision has not been taken lightly, but the directors do not consider there to be any other options in the current circumstances.

“However, the directors will continue to support the shareholder and the Scottish Government to realise a positive outcome for the business and its employees.”

Ferguson Marine won the £97 million fixed price contract to build the MV Glenn Sannox and a second Hull 802 boat for CalMac, which is due to be deployed in the Outer Hebrides.

The shipyard’s parent company, owned by Jim McColl, also criticised Caledonian Maritime Assets Ltd (CMAL) and the Scottish Government in the wake of the move.

CBC said in a statement: “We understand that this decision has not been taken lightly and is fundamentally due to CMAL and the Scottish Government’s inability to find a resolution to the additional costs encountered during the build of the two prototype LNG dual-fuelled ferries.

“As shareholder we have provided a number of viable proposals to avoid the process of administration and save the jobs of 350 employees.

“However CMAL and the Scottish Government have consistently refused to participate in productive discussions, leaving the directors of Ferguson Marine Engineering Limited with no other options given the circumstances they are faced with.”

The MV Glenn Sannox ferry, which CalMac plans to use to provide services to Arran, was due to come into service in summer 2018.

However Transport Secretary Michael Matheson said in May this date could be pushed back to 2020.

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Michael Matheson gave an update on the progress of the ferries in May (Andrew Milligan/PA)

First Minister Nicola Sturgeon tweeted: “I know that this news will be worrying for workers at Fergusons.

“⁦@scotgov⁩ is determined to find a solution that will protect jobs and secure the future of the yard, and we will be continuing work over the weekend to find a way forward.”

A Scottish Government spokeswoman said: “Our priority remains to ensure the completion of the vessels under construction, secure jobs for the workforce and protect the future of shipbuilding at the site.

“We have been working to secure a future for the shipyard for two years, and it is disappointing that we have not been able to reach a commercial solution with CBC that would have prevented administrators becoming involved.

“We appreciate that this will be a concerning time for the workforce, their families and the local community, and we would like to reassure them that we are committed to maintaining the jobs on the site and building a secure future for the yard and its workforce.

“We have been working closely with trade union representatives throughout this process, and we will continue to do so in the coming days and weeks.”

Chris McEleny, an SNP councillor in Inverclyde, also said: “I am bitterly disappointed that only five years after the shipyard was previously in administration, a shipyard with one of the brightest futures in the UK is again set to go into administration.

“It was my view that Clyde Blowers had made what I believed members of the public viewed as a fair offer to share the pain of cost with the Scottish Government to ensure the completion of the vessels, but more importantly protect the long term future of the yard.

“I welcome that the Scottish Government have previously said they will act to protect the jobs of the workers of the yard. The immediate priority is to guarantee the livelihoods of the workers at the yard.

“However, Ferguson Marine has a bright future and it’s vital to the regeneration of Inverclyde, we must know how the Government plans to grow the yard to protect the jobs of workers long term and create the hundreds of new jobs the current yard management had planned to do so.”

A CMAL spokeswoman said: “We are keen that the future of the shipyard and its workforce is secured, and a solution is found that will allow the yard to deliver the two dual fuel vessels, which will serve Scotland’s island communities.”

PA

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