The workers at Ferguson Marine would not have a job if it were not for Scottish Government intervention, the First Minister Nicola Sturgeon has said.
The Port Glasgow yard was taken into public ownership to save it from collapse in 2019 – uncovering a raft of issues in the building of two ferries, which are now slated to be more than double the initial cost and four years later than planned.
This week, the Scottish Government backed ferry procurement body Caledonian Maritime Assets Limited (CMAL) when they announced they had invited tenders on another two ships, to serve Islay and Jura, from four shipyards – two of which were based in Turkey and the others in Poland and Romania.
The decision caused outcry, given the public ownership of Ferguson’s.
When asked about the issue during First Minister’s Questions on Thursday by Tory MSP Jamie Greene, Ms Sturgeon stressed the priority of the yard was to finish the two ferries on order – with the Scottish Government claiming they will both be delivered by September next year.
“What I would say is that, due to this Government’s interventions at Ferguson’s, there are hundreds of people working at Ferguson’s today that wouldn’t be working at Ferguson’s because it wouldn’t still be operational had we not intervened in that way,” the First Minister said.
“Ferguson’s is on a journey to recovery, it has a way to go in that recovery – I think that’s self evident.
“Its priority is on completing the two ferries currently under construction and, of course, continuing the work to make sure it is in shape to compete successfully for contracts, both domestically and further afield, in future and we’ll continue to support the yard in that vital work.”
The First Minister’s comments come just a day after the Economy Secretary, Kate Forbes, said she would accept no excuses from management at the yard in the completion of the ferries.
She told MSPs on Wednesday: “Leadership does matter and I’m monitoring progress at the yard closely through the board, who ultimately oversee operational matters and hold management accountable for performance.
“I have been crystal clear with the yard’s management that I expect – no ifs, no buts – the two vessels to be completed and the yard to get into a position to compete successfully for tenders.”
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