Yesterday the Scottish Parliament Voted by 61 Votes to 60 to condemn the government’s failure to save BiFaband calling for specific actions to save the yards. The motion is reproduced below. Today the firm was put into administration.
A joint statement by trade unions GMB Scotland and Unite said BiFab’s administration exposed the “myth of Scotland’s renewables revolution as well as a decade of political hypocrisy and failure, in Scotland and the rest of the UK.”
GMB Scotland secretary Gary Smith and Unite Scotland secretary Pat Rafferty added that the workers and communities dependent on the yards had “fought so hard for a future”.
The Scottish Parliament vote calls on the government to take a number of actions – including that the government produces a report by January that sets out steps to ensure future renewable work comes to Scottish fabrication yards. If BiFab is lost it’s a tragedy for the workforce and for workers in the sector more generally. It’s also a major setback on the path to a sustainable economy. Transition requires skilled workers and infrastructure. BiFab should be part of that.
Scot.E3 has argued consistently that the only effective way to develop a serious plan for transition is through public planning and public control. Taking BiFab into public ownership could be a first step. One thing is clear that to get the Scottish Government to take this seriously and to respond to the motion extra parliamentary pressure is required. A new UN report shows how the big energy companies are doubling down on fossil fuel extraction. It’s time to turn the tide – if not now when!
That the Parliament believes that Scotland has the potential to lead Europe’s green energy revolution over the coming decades; further believes that, in the context of the COVID-19 pandemic and job losses, green jobs will be central to creating new employment and training opportunities across Scotland; considers that, with the support of the workforce and their trades unions, the maximum effort has to be made to secure wind farm contracts for Scottish manufacturing companies; notes that, in open competition, BiFab won a £30 million contract to build turbine jackets for the NnG North Sea wind farm, work that could have started in January 2021, but has been prevented from going ahead with this; condemns the Scottish Government’s decision to withdraw the financial guarantee that was needed to enable this work to go ahead, thus risking Scotland’s reputation as a new green investment hub, and further condemns the Scottish Government’s failure to produce any legal opinion to justify its claim that support for BiFab was against the law; calls on it to act now to secure the future of the Burntisland Methil and Arnish yards, and the jobs that depend on them; further calls on it to talk to the workforce’s representatives and to ask for the help of the UK Government through the joint working party to urgently negotiate with EDF and Saipem to find a solution that ensures that the NnG contract for eight wind turbine platforms is carried out in the yards, and, with Glasgow being the venue of the COP26 summit in December 2021, calls for a concrete plan to be published in January by the Scottish Government that ensures that future work on renewables comes to Scottish yards, and further calls on the Scottish Government to ensure that these policy commitments on renewables are part of a coherent industrial strategy for the post-COVID-19 era.