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Monday 20th
posted by Peter Lazenby in Britain

New financial package saves 1,400 jobs at green Fife manufacturing firm

WORKERS at threatened Scottish engineering firm BiFab are celebrating victory after securing the firm’s future following a united week-long campaign.

BiFab (Burntisland Fabrications) fell into financial difficulties while working on a long-term contract to build an offshore wind farm.

A financial package has now been provided to help complete the project by Seaway Heavy Lifting, energy firm SSE and the partners to the Beatrice offshore wind-farm project, JCE Offshore.

The future of 1,400 jobs in Fife and on Lewis came under threat a week ago when the firm declared its intention to go into administration.

The workforce and unions Unite and GMB’s campaign to save the firm included a stint of working for no wages.

But the threat of administration has now been lifted by the consortium’s financial package. The Scottish government also promised a commercial loan facility for to BiFab if necessary.

A joint statement by GMB and Unite officials Gary Smith and Pat Rafferty said: “The background to the saving of the yards, in these difficult circumstances, is the coming-together of all the major parties to agree a deal to make a shared financial contribution guaranteeing that BiFab would not go into administration.

“The deal also assures that the cash flow of the company will now allow the current contract to be completed with the same workforce.

“Make no mistake, these yards would be closed today if it wasn’t for the dignity and determination of the workers and their families in Fife and Lewis to save their jobs and industry.

“With their futures on a knife edge they worked for nothing, stayed strong and resolute, and by staying united they have won their future.

“Further, the Scottish government said they would leave no stone unturned and their efforts have been pivotal in bringing BiFab back from the brink.”

Scotland’s First Minister Nicola Sturgeon said: “I am pleased that after an extensive series of talks over the last week and two days of intense negotiations we have been able to broker a commercial agreement that lifts the threat of administration from BiFab and allows work on the current contract to continue.”

• JOBS at firms such as the occupied infrastructure company BiFab have been put at risk by the SNP’s “crisis management” approach to industry, Richard Leonard has told the Star, writes Conrad Landin.

After he was announced as the new leader of Scottish Labour on Saturday, Mr Leonard visited Fife workers staging a work-in in protest at the threat to their jobs.

BiFab, which makes large parts for offshore energy projects, has been facing a financial crisis due to a row with a Dutch wind-power client.

He said there was a huge “imbalance of power” between the workers and “these businesses who think they can turn on and off their employment like a tap.

“The fact they’ve launched a work-in is commendable.”

Asked by the Star if he would take a different approach to the SNP’s government’s attempts to broker talks, he said: “The SNP’s approach to these things is crisis management.

“My view is that there needs to be a proactive, forward-looking industrial policy.

“We need to have a forward-planned approach for economic development so we don’t simply lurch from one crisis to another.”