Trade Unions welcome BiFab purchase but demand government reform and support for offshore wind industry
- Friday 12 February 2021
The Unite and GMB trade unions have today (12 February) welcomed the announcement that two of the three BiFab fabrication yards have been bought out of administration by InfraStrata.
BiFab, which had three fabrication yards in Fife and the Isle of Lewis, went into administration in December last year following the Scottish Government withdrawing previous financial guarantees to support the manufacture of eight turbine jackets for the Neart na Gaiothe (NnG) offshore wind project at the yards.
InfraStrata as part of a £850,000 deal has bought the sites at Methil in Fife and Arnish on Lewis. It is understood that InfraStrata, which owns the Harland and Wolff shipyard in Belfast, will bring the Scottish sites under the Harland and Wolff name as it attempts to bid for offshore wind projects and shipbuilding contracts.
Unite and GMB have demanded concrete actions by the Scottish and UK Governments to strategically support the offshore wind sector. The trade unions criticised the announcement by the Prime Minister in October 2020 to commit 60 per cent of the turbines to be manufactured in the UK as ‘empty rhetoric’ without a review of Contracts for Difference (CfD), which should include local content and enforcement clauses.
The trade unions also cited the various powers relating to planning, renewables energy, procurement, the Crown Estate and Marine Scotland which the Scottish Government should be using to exercise greater leverage in the contractual process.
Unite Scotland Secretary Pat Rafferty and GMB Scotland Secretary Gary Smith said:
“The announcement by InfraStrata that two of the BiFab yards will be bought out of administration is welcome news. It is also testament to our members and their communities who have fought hard to keep these yards alive.
"We look forward to working with the company to ensure it is primed to win contracts for the offshore wind sector, and to having a positive working relationship underpinned by the Fair Work principles. 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 from these contracts. Now the Scottish and UK Governments have been given a reprieve and they need to step-up and support the new ownership.
“We urgently need an overhaul of the Contracts for Difference process to ensure local supply clauses are in-built at the outset of major contracts as part of a proper industrial and investment plan for the sector, otherwise the green jobs revolution will remain a fantasy.“
Contact: Andrew Brady, Unite Scotland Communications on 07810 157922 and Peter Welsh, GMB Scotland Communications on 07976 447077.