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Battle for BiFab: Redundancy-threatened workers march on Holyrood

Workers from engineering firm BiFab hold a demonstration in Edinburgh (Jeff J Mitchell/Getty Images)
Workers from engineering firm BiFab hold a demonstration in Edinburgh (Jeff J Mitchell/Getty Images)

WORKERS at the crisis-hit BiFab yards have marched on Holyrood in bid to raise awareness of their plight.

Trade union leaders at Unite organised the demonstration after it emerged the engineering firm Burntisland Fabrications Ltd is facing a critical cash position, and has filed a notice of its intention to appoint administrators.

A spokesman for the organisers said: “The BiFab workers have courageously decided to continue to work to complete their current contract, despite having no guarantee that they will be paid.

“Trade unionists are staffing the gates so that equipment and materials cannot be removed from the Methil yard.

“This is a viable workforce and these are viable yards – important strategic assets – ready and able to help deliver the future of Scottish manufacturing.”


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VIDEO: Workers march to Scottish Parliament in Battle for BiFab

 


BiFab, which makes equipment for both the oil and gas industry and the renewable energy sector, directly employs some 600 people at its yards in Burntisland and Methil in Fife and Arnish on the Isle of Lewis.

But Scottish Economy Secretary Keith Brown said when contractors and subcontractors were included, 1,400 jobs were linked to the firm’s survival.

Mr Brown told MSPs on Tuesday that a “disputed payment” was the source of the company’s financial problems.

And while he accepted that is a matter for the two firms involved – BiFab and the Dutch-owned contractor, Seaway Heavy Lifting (SHL) – he said the Scottish Government would do everything in its power to help.

Speaking earlier this week, Mr Brown said: “This is a contract between private companies and the issues that have arisen have been between those private companies.

“But of course, we are very interested and want to do what we can to help to try to achieve a solution.

“At root of course is the future of up to 600 people directly employed and 1,400 people in general including contractors and subcontractors.”

He added: “I do appreciate this is a very concerning time for the workforce, but this government is committed to doing everything we can to find a positive solution to this situation.”