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Fresh redundancies at BiFab despite Scottish Government-backed takeover

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BiFab has announced a fresh wave of redundancies just weeks after a Scottish Government-backed rescue package was unveiled for the troubled firm.

A further 40 workers at the company’s Fife yards were issued with notices yesterday, in addition to 56 staff who had already been warned they could lose their jobs.

Trade unions said the “scale and speed” of the redundancies was unexpected and it will leave the firm with 36 permanent employees alongside contractors.

The Arnish yard on Lewis had already been left with just a skeleton staff as work on platforms for the Beatrice offshore windfarm was completed.

Last month, First Minister Nicola Sturgeon hailed a “key milestone” for the three BiFab yards after announcing that the Scottish Government had brokered a takeover by Canadian construction giant JV Driver, through its subsidiary DF Barnes.

The Scottish Government reiterated last night that the deal gives BiFab the “best chance of winning future contracts and securing new work”.

Gary Smith and Pat Rafferty, joint trade union secretaries for GMB Scotland and Unite Scotland, said: “The scale and speed of these redundancies was not expected.

“It means that some workers will be out of a job as early as two weeks time and most will be gone in three months.”

They added: “We knew the road ahead would be hard and the need for new contracts is obvious but clearly a major problem has emerged in terms of the future prospects for fresh work over the last fortnight.”

With the Scottish Government holding a minority stake in the firm, Economy Secretary Keith Brown was holding talks with union representatives last night.

Scottish Labour’s economy spokeswoman Jackie Baillie said it was a “deeply disappointing announcement” and added: “Given the Scottish Government now has a stake in BiFab, it is essential that they intervene to stop any job losses and secure further work for the three BiFab sites.”

A Scottish Government spokeswoman said: “The acquisition of BiFab by DF Barnes represents a significant step forward in our efforts to restore BiFab to its place at the centre of Scotland’s marine energy industry. But there is a lot of hard work ahead.

“As ministers made clear when new ownership was secured while the current contract comes to an end, and efforts go into winning new work, there will continue to be difficult times for the three yards.

“But the commitment of DF Barnes gives BiFab the best chance of winning future contracts and securing new work.”

She added: “Nonetheless, this announcement will be hugely concerning for the workers affected and their families.

“We are in regular contact with the unions and we stand ready to provide support through our Partnership Action for Continuing Employment (PACE) initiative.”

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