Communities in Fife and Lewis are battling for their jobs and urging the Scottish Government to help the threat to their livelihoods. Workers and their families will march in Edinburgh today urging MSPs to ‘battle for BiFab’ as their trade unions called on energy giant SSE to ‘rein in’ the contractor Seaway Heavy Lifting (SHL) and save 1,400 jobs in Fife and Lewis.
With the threat of administration looming, joint trade union representatives met with the Keith Brown MSP (Cabinet Secretary for Economy, Jobs and Fair Work ) yesterday to press the case for urgent stakeholder intervention to keep BiFab afloat.
BiFab said it had been forced to take the action after being left in a “critical cash position as a result of a challenging situation regarding its ongoing contracts”.
The company, which has a permanent staff base of 251 and which employs a further 1,132 agency workers, has filed a notice of intention to appoint administrators but has not yet transitioned into formal administration.
The move gives BiFab an initial 10-day moratorium period in which to sort out its affairs without any new or existing legal action being taken against it.
Trade unions now believe that SSE, the largest stakeholder in the £2.6 billion Beatrice Windfarm Limited (BOWL) Project, holds the key to resolving the contractual payments dispute between BiFab and SHL.
Unite Scottish Secretary Pat Rafferty said:
“Today the Scottish Government told us they can see a path out of this crisis. But it’s a path blocked by Scotland’s biggest energy company SSE remaining at loggerheads with the main Dutch-owned contractor SHL.
“It’s time that Alistair Phillips-Davies the CEO of SSE came out of the shadows on this crisis used his powers to get this sorted. He needs to rein in SHL and guarantee these jobs and the future of the communities in Fife and Lewis affected by it.
“The dedication and professionalism of our trade union members, who are working for free to defend their futures and their industry, should send a loud and clear message to all stakeholders and politicians – this is a workforce that must be saved.
“Both trades unions involved in the BiFab crisis welcomed the work which had been done to date to seek a way out of the BiFab crisis by the Scottish Government.”
GMB Scotland Secretary Gary Smith said:
“This work and this contract will be completed in Scotland if everyone pulls together – there is a way forward here. But the spotlight now needs to be put firmly on SSE which controls the billion pound Beatrice contract, the Dutch contractor SHL at the root of the payments dispute and also the UK Government who have £21 million of taxpayers’ money underwriting this.
“It’s time for everyone to stand up and be counted. Letting these workers and their communities go under is not an option.”