Trade unions have called on politicians to “step up to the plate” and deliver on Scottish jobs for the offshore renewables revolution after two fabrication yards were bought up to bid for new work.
Two of the three troubled BiFab fabrication yards at Methil in Fife and Arnish on Lewis have been taken over by InfraStrata as part of a £850,000 deal.
The company, which owns the Harland and Wolff shipyard in Belfast, will use the yards in bids for offshore wind projects and shipbuilding contracts.
The takeover was welcomed by the Unite and GMB unions but both demanded more from the Scottish and UK Governments to turn political commitments to a renewables revolution into something more than “empty rhetoric”.
In a statement Unite Scotland Secretary Pat Rafferty and GMB Scotland Secretary Gary Smith said: “We have always believed that the BiFab yards, and indeed yards and ports all over Scotland, are uniquely placed to capture the benefits of the offshore wind sector.”
“However, the story so far has been one of government failure. Thousands of jobs and billions of pounds have been outsourced around the world when Scottish communities should have been benefitting. Now the Scottish and UK Governments need to step-up and support the new ownership.”
The unions called on the UK Government’s Contracts for Difference (CfD) to be strengthened to ensure that contracts for renewable projects include strict clauses for local production.
The trade unions also listed the powers relating to planning, renewables energy, procurement, the Crown Estate and Marine Scotland which the Scottish Government should be using to ensure more contract work for offshore renewables is based in Scotland.
The unions said: “We urgently need an overhaul to ensure local supply clauses are built into major contracts as part of a proper industrial and investment plan, otherwise the green jobs revolution will remain a fantasy.”
While the Methil and Arnish sites are included in the deal securing 29 furloughed jobs at the closed yards the Burntisland site in Fife is not.
Canadian-owned BiFab went into administration in December last year amid bitter trade union condemnation of the Scottish Government for withdrawing financial guarantees to support the manufacture of eight turbine jackets for the Neart na Gaiothe offshore wind project.
The Scottish government put £37 million into BiFab in equity and loans, and had offered a further £15m loan facility but was blamed when Ministers pulled out finance guarantees and the bids collapsed.
John Wood, chief executive of InfraStrata, said: “With this acquisition, we now have a footprint in Scotland, which is the hotbed for major windfarm projects as well as for shipbuilding programmes.”
Scottish Government Economy Secretary Fiona Hyslop also said the deal was a “welcome development”.
She added: “The workforce has an important role to play in the future of manufacturing in Scotland and I look forward to working with the new owner as it forges a new future for the company.”
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