Yard jobs pledge denounced as an insult by union

Deal struck to save BiFab yards.
Deal struck to save BiFab yards.

The new owners of BiFab vowed yesterday there would be “no further redundancies” as they look to compete for big renewables contracts.

But union chiefs last night accused them of “playing on words” and insulting workers, given redundancy notices are still to take effect on scores of workers across two yards in Arnish, Stornoway and Fife.

DF Barnes, which took over the troubled company earlier this year, met unions on Wednesday for tense discussions over workers’ futures.

Yesterday, the Newfoundland-based company’s vice-president Jason Fudge described the redundancies as “unavoidable” but “unfortunate”.

Asked about potential for future job losses at BiFab, Mr Fudge said: “No. There are no plans for further redundancies right now.

“The redundancies that have been issued have been really unfortunate and it’s not something that we had hoped to do, but there’s a gap in the pipeline of projects where that was unavoidable and are driven by forces outwith our control.”

But last night Gary Smith, GMB Union’s Scotland secretary, said: “To suggest that there are no further redundancies is nothing more than a play on words and does nothing to aid trust and confidence.

“Frankly, it’s an insult to those who fought to keep the yard open.

“There are some very difficult ongoing conversations.

“We will consult with our members before we say anything else.”

This fresh disagreement with workers’ unions over jobs comes as DF Barnes revealed that they are in active discussions with the proposed Moray (East) Offshore Wind Farm in the Moray Firth and the Neart Na Gaoithe project in the Firth of Forth.

The firm revealed it is “laser focused” to bringing back jobs to BiFab but said job losses were a result of a lag between renewables contracts.