The Scottish Government has announced that it has reached an agreement with administrators to take the Ferguson Marine shipyard into public control.
The move will allow the completion of two ferries being built for Caledonian Maritime Assets Ltd (CMAL) at the Port Glasgow yard, as well as future delivery of other vessels under construction.
It follows two years of extensive discussions with partners to try and find a workable commercial solution.
Visiting the yard this morning, Economy Secretary Derek Mackay spoke to the workforce and outlined the Scottish Government’s plans for moving forward.
Public control is the only viable option to secure a future for the Ferguson Marine shipyard, its suppliers and the workforce. For that reason, the Scottish Government has reached an agreement with administrators to take control of the yard. https://t.co/RMVirvBbO0 pic.twitter.com/nH5rAYIcl6
— ScotGovEconomy (@scotgoveconomy) August 16, 2019
He said: “We have always been clear that we want to complete the vessels, secure jobs and give the yard a future. I am here today to ensure that we hit the ground running in making that happen and to reassure Ferguson’s excellent staff of the government’s commitment.
“Public control will provide much-needed continuity of employment now and ensure the completion of the CMAL ferry contracts at the lowest possible cost to the taxpayer. It is absolutely essential that the outstanding contracts to build these two ferries are completed in order to sustain the Clyde and Hebrides Ferry Services network and provide vital support for the economies of our island communities.”
He added: “The alternative was for the government to stand aside while the company went into administration, resulting in the jobs being lost and the vessels not being completed. That was not an outcome I was willing to consider.
“We are now working to put in place a management team which will refocus all efforts on completing this vital government contract. We will also be working closely with staff and the trades unions – as well as suppliers and customers – to achieve the best possible outcome for the yard.”
The Scottish Government will operate the yard under a management agreement with the administrators while the sale process is completed.
As part of the agreement entered into with the administrators, the Scottish Government will acquire Ferguson Marine at the end of that process should no viable commercial offer be forthcoming during that period.
The process is expected to last up to four weeks and will include the administrator undertaking a market testing exercise.
— GMB Scotland (@GMBScotOrg) August 16, 2019
The move was welcomed by unions, with around 300 permanent, temporary and contract workers at the yard.
GMB Scotland Organiser and CSEU Scotland Chair, Gary Cook, said: “Nationalisation secures the immediate future of the yard and that is a very welcome development, particularly after all the recent uncertainty.
“Our members were caught in the middle of a situation that had nothing to do with them and their relief will be palpable. It is five years since the yard went bust and the Scottish Government has prevented that from happening again.
“We can now look to the future and everyone should do so with a sense of purpose. With vision and competency we can get on with building the ships Scotland needs and together we can grow jobs and prosperity on the lower Clyde.”
Unite Scottish Secretary, Pat Rafferty, added: “Unite fully supports the actions of the Scottish Government to intervene and nationalise Ferguson Marine shipyards. It’s clear at this stage that nationalisation was the only serious option on the table to save the yard and more than 350 highly skilled jobs. The Scottish Government have rightly acknowledged their obligations to the workforce, and the people the ferries would serve which must be acknowledged.
“Unite also welcomes the fact that the trade unions have been fully engaged in this process so far. This must remain the case going forward to ensure that the ferries on the existing contract become operable and future contracts can be secured. The yard can have a very successful future and we must all now play our part to make sure this happens.”
The two CMAL vessels will serve on Calmac routes between Ardrossan and Brodick and Uig to Tarbert and Lochmaddy.
While the CMAL vessels are completed the Scottish Government says it will conduct further work to identify a viable future structure for the yard.
They will also remain open to discussions with any parties interested in securing a viable commercial future for the yard.