HUNDREDS of Scots staff at troubled engineering firm BiFab, are to receive redundancy notices on Tuesday as two marine engineering yards are set to close, union leaders say.

Unite say that the yards in Fife and Lewis are in line for possible closure.

BiFab was bailed out by a £15 million Scottish Government loan two-and-a-half months ago, and had been facing a fresh threat to its survival after being hit with a multi-million pound lawsuit.

Unite say management at the yards have told unions they will be issuing redundancy notices to the core workforce on Tuesday, giving 45 days notice of the closure of the yards.


Some 260 full time jobs are to go by early summer with the possible closure of the yards completely by the end of June.

BiFab has yards in Burntisland, Methill and at Arnish on Lewis and its workforce comprises of 251 permanent staff and 1,132 agency workers.

In November hundreds of BiFab workers marched on Holyrood to highlight the risk to their jobs, prompting First Minister Nicola Sturgeon to return from a UN climate change conference in Germany to broker a deal that saved the firm from administration.

BiFab, which faced the prospect of running out of work at the end of March, was served with a Court of Session claim from German company EEW, one of BiFab’s co-contractors on the £2.6 billion Beatrice Offshore Windfarm.

HeraldScotland: The demonstration in Edinburgh to help save the BiFab yards

It is understood that the firm was seeking several million pounds in relation to work that both companies have carried out on Beatrice, an 84-turbine wind farm situated in the Moray Firth. EEW supplied the pipes used in all 84 turbines, with BiFab winning a £100 million contract to assemble 26 of them.

Unite’s regional officer Bob McGregor says: “So much has been done to save these yards until now. The workers there have fought for their future and it is difficult to believe that it can now be snatched away from them. The closures of these yards will turn these areas into an industrial graveyard. The prospect fills us with dismay."

Lawsuit threat to BiFab's survival after £15m loan

In November last year the BiFab yards were threatened with closure as the company appeared to be running out of money as a result of a payments dispute with a major sub-subcontractor on the Beatrice Wind farm contract for the Cromarty Firth.

The workers at BiFab occupied the yards and called for Scottish Government intervention to save them. The Industry minister Keith Brown and the First minister, Nicola Sturgeon eventually managed to broker a deal involving all the major contractors to save the yards.


But Unite say the Beatrice Wind farm contract is now coming to a close and BiFab is now running out of work.

Union leaders say there has also been open speculation that the yards may be taken over by a major Canadian concern. Although there has been no official confirmation of these moves.

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Bob McGregor of Unite said: “We can’t say this is a total shock because work at the yard has been running down for weeks now. However all the interested parties, the company, the contractors, the unions and the Scottish Government, given what has been done so far, must surely look to have an eleventh hour intervention which can do something to save these jobs.”

Unite say BiFab management told the trades unions that the first redundancies would start in May and the closure would be completed by the end of June.

Minister statement over BiFab bailout

They claim the timescales can only be reversed if new contracts can be established for the yards.

BiFab in race to seal a deal to secure its future

BiFab builds large-scale equipment for the offshore oil and gas industry, as well as platforms for offshore wind turbines and tidal generators.

Over a year ago BiFab secured a £100m contract for the manufacture of 26 offshore wind turbine jackets from the Dutch contractor Seaway Heavy Lifting (SHL), part of the £2.6bn Beatrice Offshore Windfarm Ltd (Bowl) project in the Outer Moray Firth led by energy giant SSE.

BiFab and the Scottish Government have been approached for comment.

Unite's BiFab protest video

Economy Secretary Keith Brown said: “Scottish Ministers have offered support to BiFab to allow work to continue on the contracts for the Beatrice offshore wind farm development through a loan facility, and have been fully focussed and working intensively to secure a long-term future for the company.

“Ministers recognise that more work remains to be done to secure the long term future of the company and are fully committed to offering support where possible to attract long term investment in this vital sector of the Scottish supply chain and economy."

He said the development would be "hugely concerning for the workers affected and their families" and that the Scottish Government stood ready to provide support through the Partnership Action for Continuing Employment (PACE) initiative. 

HeraldScotland: MSP Keith Brown

"By providing skills development and employability support, PACE aims to minimise the time individuals affected by redundancy are out of work," he said.