Scotland: Unions Urge OWF Developers to Secure Work for BiFab

GMB Scotland and Unite the Union have called on the offshore wind developers with projects in Scotland to award Bifab with contracts for which the company is currently tendering for. 

“It cannot be the case that the people of Scotland, who pay a premium on their energy bills to subsidise the offshore wind farms, are denied the opportunity to build those wind farms,” the two unions’ leaders said in a statement following their meetings with the new owner of the Bifab yards, DF Barnes, and the Canadian trade unions.

Gary Smith, GMB Scotland Secretary and Pat Rafferty, Scottish Secretary at Unite the Union, went to Canada on 25 July, after a renewed dialogue between the unions and the company in Scotland, and a meeting with the Scottish Government’s new Finance and Economy Secretary, Derek Mackay, held in Glasgow the day before.

“We have a fantastic skilled workforce in Scotland and the wind farms that are going to be put in Scottish waters should be built, right here in Scotland in the 3 Bifab yards. We are paying for them and we should build them,” the unions’ representatives said.

Scotland’s First Minister Nicola Sturgeon pointed out the importance of BiFab securing new orders a couple of months ago, saying that the takeover by the new owner was not a magic solution and that hard times still lay ahead with new contracts yet to be won.

Smith and Rafferty expressed their optimism about BiFab’s future after the meeting with the new owner, saying that the company had shown commitment to the Scottish yards and determination to make those yards a success in both short and long term.

“The company have assured us that they are committed to working with our unions and to create a successful business that creates highly skilled jobs in Scotland.”

The meetings follow a “dark day” for the company, as the unions called it, on 12 July, when further redundancies at BiFab were confirmed as the three yards closed until new orders could be secured.

This left only seven staff members with an offer for part-time positions to oversee the maintenance and security of the yards and assets in Arnish, Burntisland, Methil, and twelve senior managers from the original BiFab business fully retained by the new owner.

To remind, Canadian company JV Driver – through its subsidiary DF Barnes – acquired BiFab in april 2018, as part of an agreement brokered by the Scottish Government to support new opportunities at BiFab’s renewables and marine fabrication and construction yards in the UK. Under the agreement, the Scottish Government has taken a minority shareholding in the new company to demonstrate continued commitment to supporting the future of BiFab.

Offshore WIND Staff

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