Confusion exists tonight (Thursday October 10th) over whether a new threat of redundancy hangs over workers at Burntisland Fabrication’s (BiFab) yard in Arnish, according to unions Unite and GMB.
The two big unions said a “major blow” had been dealt to the Isle of Lewis workforce. A Unite representative claimed that staff were told that the site would be down-manning to zero, with most workers handed a six-week notice period.
But the Energy Voice newsletter states that the yard’s Canadian owner DF Barnes has denied the claims and said it had issued no notices to staff. A source close to the Newfoundland-based firm was quoted saying that “no redundancies have been issued to BiFab”.
It comes just months after a job-saving contract got underway to build 100 monopiles for the Moray East Offshore wind farm, revitalising the Lewis facility back in March.
In July it was revealed that BiFab had secured work for eight of the 53 jacket foundations for the Neart Na Gaoithe (NnG) offshore wind farm off the coast of Angus, It is thought the deal could create up to 200 jobs at the firm’s Methil yard in Fife, but no contract has been agreed.
In a joint statement, Unite Scottish secretary Pat Rafferty and his GMB counterpart Gary Smith said there is a “major cloud of uncertainty” over the future.
They said: “The news of redundancy notices to the workforce at Arnish is a major blow to the workers who have had to endure so much uncertainty over recent years.”
BiFab was rescued from the brink of administration by the Scottish Government in a £25m agreement before being purchased by Canadian firm DF Barnes last April, although hundreds of jobs were shed.
A spokeswoman for the Scottish Government said it was “in regular contact” with staff and would “provide support for any staff affected”.
“Some contracts are nearing completion, but by working with the company to secure new business, we hope to provide the best means of creating jobs in the longer term for both the Fife and Isle of Lewis communities.”
Unite Scottish Secretary Pat Rafferty and GMB Scotland, Scottish Secretary, Gary Smith went on to say: “It was only in March that we had the Energy Minister Paul Wheelhouse announcing a contract award with over 80 jobs being created.
“There is a major cloud of uncertainty over the future of the BiFab yards in Arnish and in Fife which can only be lifted by the awarding of new contracts and investment into the yards.
“Unite and the GMB have been working tirelessly to ensure that the BiFab yards secure work from EDF’s £2 billion Neart Na Gaoithe (NnG) offshore wind project.
“However, we have been waiting on this announcement for months now and it’s time for the silence to end because the workforce needs some stability and certainty.”
“It’s also clear that this latest development in Arnish is part of a long-running and sorry saga regarding the abject failure of the Scottish and UK Governments to ensure working-class communities benefit from the so-called green revolution.
“To date minimal work and minimal jobs have been directly created in Scotland by the billions of pounds being invested into the renewables sector in Scotland.
“It’s a national scandal and politicians must be held to account.”