Union vows: ‘Nothing leaves Bi-Fab yards until we get paid’

By Aisling Press and Peter Urpeth

Photo Credit: Ben_Kerckx

Union Unite has pledged to put BI-Fab’s yards into lock-down with no turbine jackets leaving the site until workers get paid.

With a work-force of up to 1400 jobs under threat in the dispute between yard owners, BiFab, and Dutch commissioning company, Seaway Heavy Lifting over disputed payments for completed work, Unite’s leader Bob McGregor said:

“If we don’t get a resolution they shouldn’t think they can take those jackets without paying the workers. No one can take anything on or off site without permission. The guys have to protect themselves and are protecting the site. We want the site secured for the future not closed and left as a graveyard.”

Members of Unite and the GMB commenced a work-in at Bi-Fabs yards on Monday after Bi-Fab bosses announced that the company could be forced into administration, and the yards closed over a contractual dispute with (SHL) left BiFab with a cash flow crisis and unable to pay its workforce.

Sub-contractor companies and suppliers are also facing problems as BiFab remains unable to pay its bills.

Speaking ahead of crunch talks with the Scottish government and a major joint-union demo at the Scottish Parliament tomorrow, Bob MCGregor  emphasised that the unions were looking to find a way to secure not just the jobs of members but that the future of the entire manufacturing base for the renewables industry in Scotland was at risk if BiFab failed.

“We are hoping to find a resolution in the shape of a government rescue package or a government buy out, or even some interim support. We want the site secured for the future. The Scottish government says that renewables are the future, so we need them to step up the plate. We want the U.K to benefit from renewables, both from manufacture and from the electricity generated. We don’t want them to be built offshore.”

In a topical question to the Scottish Parliament yesterday, Fife MSP David Torrence, whose constituency includes BiFab’s Methil site and neighbours the company’s Burntisland facility, asked Cabinet Secretary Keith Brown: “…it is clear that the workforce at BiFab are serious about playing their part in the company’s survival and future success. Does the cabinet secretary agree that the Scottish Government owes it to those workers to leave no stone unturned in finding a solution?”

The cabinet Secretary responded:  “I have also spoken directly to the trade unions and conveyed that we will do everything possible to support the workforce. I appreciate that this is a very concerning time for the workforce, but the Government is committed to doing everything that we can to find a positive solution to the situation.

Photo Credit: arnish yard

“I appreciate that this is a very concerning time for the workforce, but the Government is committed to doing everything that we can to find a positive solution to the situation. We want to see a solution at BiFab and ensure that Scottish engineering and manufacturing are central to the supply chain for the renewable energy sector and for oil and gas going forward.”

“We want to see a solution at BiFab and ensure that Scottish engineering and manufacturing are central to the supply chain for the renewable energy sector and for oil and gas going forward.”

On Monday, BiFab’s MD Martin Adam, Managing Director , said “We are very disappointed that we have found ourselves in the current position which has arisen as a result of a challenging situation in respect of our ongoing contracts which have been providing much needed employment locally in Scotland. We are seeking a rapid solution with our key stakeholders and the Scottish Executive to our current cash flow position and are hopeful that this can be achieved quickly to secure the future of the business and the 1,400 strong workforce.”

Gary Smith, GMB Scotland Secretary, said:

“This is a critical moment for the future of BiFab, its workers and the communities these yards support. Yesterday we were told that despite the evident problems, it would be business as usual and our members should report to work as normal. This morning we were told that there is no money to pay our members wages, stemming from a cash flow problem with the contractor Seaway Heavy Lifting (SHL).

“Everyone with an interest in these workers, their communities and the welfare of the Scottish economy must pull together now and the Scottish Government must lead this effort. This is a viable workforce and these are viable yards – important strategic assets – and they stand ready and able to help deliver the future of Scottish manufacturing. Letting these workers and their communities go under is not an option. We’ve got to battle for BiFab.”

Earlier this year, SHL became 100% owned by global engineering giant Subsea 7, who acquired K&S Baltic Offshore (Cyprus) Limited’s 50% shareholding in the company.

On 9th November 2017, Jean Cahuzac, Chief Executive Officer, said in the press statement of the company’s Q3 report :

“Good progress was achieved on the Beatrice wind farm project with almost all the piles installed by the quarter end. Installation of the wind turbine jackets by the heavy lift vessel Oleg Strashnov commenced in August and 24 jackets had been installed by the end of September. Several SURF projects were substantially completed in the third quarter including the Clair Ridge, Callater and Western Isles projects, offshore UK.”

The report confirmed:

“Third quarter revenue of $1,063 million was 15% higher than the prior year comparative period, largely due to increased activity in renewables partly offset by lower revenue from SURF projects.

“Subsea 7 guidance for the full year 2017 is unchanged. Revenue is expected to be higher in 2017 compared to 2016.”

#battleforbifab

 

 

 

 

 

 

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