JOBS at a troubled windfarm engineering firm facing collapse have been saved after Nicola Sturgeon unveiled a rescue package.

BiFab was facing the threat of administration with the loss of 1,400 jobs at yards in Fife and Lewis.

Last night, in a dramatic move Sturgeon said the closure threat had been lifted following a deal between private companies involved.

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READ MORE: BiFab, inside the Occupation

The First Minister held talks with the firms in Edinburgh yesterday following a dispute which led to cash-flow problems. At the centre of it was an argument between the company and the Dutch-owned contractor, Seaway Heavy Lifting (SHL) over a payment.

The agreement brokered by Sturgeon will see BiFab receiving payments to alleviate the firm's "immediate cash flow issues".

However, the Scottish Government has indicated it would make a commercial loan available to keep the yards open if the threat resurfaced.

The move followed worker occupations at BiFab's yards at Burntisland and Methil in Fife and Arnish on the Isle of Lewis.

Under the terms of the deal work will continue on a current contract to build the Beatrice offshore windfarm project at Outer Moray Firth.

A financial package to complete the contract has been provided by SHL and energy giant Scottish and Southern Energy (SSE) and the partners to complete the project.

The First Minister also held talks yesterday with the GMB and Unite unions, which represent the BiFab workforce.

READ MORE: BiFab, inside the Occupation

Sturgeon said: “I am pleased that after an extensive series of talks over the last week and two days of intense negotiations we have been able to broker a commercial agreement that lifts the threat of administration from BiFab and allows work on the current contract to continue.

“Over the last seven days we have worked to ensure all partners understood the urgency of the position BiFab found themselves in and the part they could play in relieving the financial pressure on the company.

"Seaway Heavy Lifting and SSE in particular have chosen to back BiFab today to complete their contract and that is a real vote of confidence in the company and the workforce.

“I know that this has been an anxious time for people employed at BiFab, as well as their families and the wider communities of Burntisland, Methil and Arnish and the trade unions have ensured that the importance of this company was made clear to all companies involved.

“All companies including BiFab have had to take difficult decisions to secure this outcome.

"While this deal lifts the immediate threat of administration, we recognise that there is a lot of work still to do to secure the long term position."

The Scottish leaders of GMB and Unite unions Gary Smith and Pat Rafferty, praised Sturgeon for brokering the deal.

However, they said the worker occupations of the BiFab sites had been kept the yards open.

READ MORE: BiFab, inside the Occupation

In a joint statement Smith and Rafferty said: "Make no mistake these yards would be closed today if it wasn’t for the dignity and determination of the workers and their families in Fife and Lewis to save their jobs and industry.

"With their futures on a knife edge they worked for nothing stayed strong and resolute and by staying united they have won their future."