BiFab Crisis: Workers Rally at Scottish Parliament as Unions Urge SSE to 'Rein In' SHL

Keith Brown, MSP, addresses BiFab workers at this morning's rally. Image source: GMB Scotland on Twitter (cropped)

The trade unions supporting BiFab workers have called on SSE to ‘rein in’ the contractor Seaway Heavy Lifting (SHL) and save 1,400 jobs in Fife and Lewis. On 16 November, SSE issued a statement saying that, as a 15% shareholder of BiFab, it is willing to play its part in a recovery package supported by and involving all shareholders.

Joint trade union representatives met with the Cabinet Secretary for Economy, Jobs and Fair Work, Keith Brown, on 15 November to press the case for urgent stakeholder intervention to keep BiFab afloat as the threat of administration is knocking on the company's door. Following the meeting, the trade unions said they believed that SSE holds the key to resolving the contractual payments dispute between BiFab and SHL.

"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," said Scottish Secretary of the Unite union, Pat Rafferty. "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 GMB Union's Scottish Secretary, Gary Smith, said letting workers and communities go under was not an option.

In its statement issued today, SSE said it continues to work closely with BiFab’s management and other stakeholders to find a sustainable solution.

Hundreds march for BiFab

Furthermore, BiFab workers organised a rally today, 16 November, to urge MSPs to "battle for BiFab" and gathered together with their families in a march through Edinburgh to the Scottish Parliament.

To remind, the BiFab workers have continued working even after they were told they might not get paid to keep the Beatrice order at BiFab facilities, a move that was praised by Secretary Brown.

Unite's Scottish Secretary Rafferty said: "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."

The trade unions involved in the BiFab crisis also welcomed the work done to date by the Scottish Government.