The state-owned shipyard at the centre of Scotland's ferry building fiasco is recruiting 120 temporary UK-based only workers to try and get the project back on track.

Ferguson Marine is introducing the weekend shift on March 1 for at least six months and is now searching for 120 skilled and experienced contract workers to cover shifts on Friday, Saturday and Sunday. But it is stressing it is only looking for UK-based workers because of "the timescales involved and ongoing Covid-19 restrictions".

At the end of January, the state-owned company launched an investigation in a row over the drafting in of migrant workers while existing staff were let go.

The row began  when police were called after migrant workers were drafted in to work at the shipyard and breached Covid-19 restrictions.

The vacancies are mainly for pipe fitters and steel workers in line with current build requirements on the two lifeline ferries MV Glen Sannox and Hull 802, the two delayed ferries being built for Caledonian Maritime Assets Limited (CMAL), the taxpayer-funded company which buys and leases publicly owned CalMac's ships on behalf of the Scottish government.

Ferguson Marine's financial collapse in August, 2019 led to a state takeover, while the delivery of two lifeline island ferries MV Glen Sannox and Hull 802 which were due online in the first half of 2018 will be between four and five years late.

The official launch of the MV Glen Sannox on  November 21, 2017  was presided over by the First Minister

The owners of the last civilian Clyde shipyard went into administration following a dispute with CMAL as the price of the construction of the ferries under a £97m fixed price contract more than doubled.

Around £45m in Scottish Government loans to keep the yard afloat have also been written off.

At the end of January, opposition parties united in condemnation over ministers' rejection of the "catastrophic failure" conclusion of an inquiry into the ferries' procurement.

Ferguson Marine said the new weekend rota is a "short-term measure designed specifically to boost production on the dual fuel vessel project and to accelerate progress against delivery schedules". It means the shipyard will be in production seven days a week during spring and summer months and will bring total headcount to more than 500.

READ MORE: Investigation launched in row over foreign labour being drafted in at nationalised Ferguson Marine

Recruitment firm, Advantage, is managing the search and appointment of contract workers to fill the vacancies. Due to the timescales involved and ongoing Covid-19 restrictions, Ferguson is currently looking for UK-based workers only.

Tim Hair, turnaround director at Ferguson Marine (Port Glasgow), said: “We are taking serious action with the introduction of a weekend shift in an effort to expedite the delivery schedule for the dual fuel ferries project. I want to take advantage of better weather and extended daylight hours over the next six months to drive the project hard. Last year was challenging, with disruption created by the pandemic, but we’re confident we can increase momentum in 2021.

“It’s a great opportunity for skilled workers in the local community and surrounding areas to join us in a pivotal year and contribute to an important vessel project.


Camley's Cartoon: Work on delayed ferry progresses.

“We are confident, despite many challenges, 2021 will be a pivotal year in securing the long-term future of the shipyard. We must do everything possible to deliver the dual fuel ferry programme, improve productivity, secure contracts for future vessels, and protect local jobs. This recruitment drive for 120 jobs is another key milestone in building a successful and competitive business.”

Last month a row erupted when 13 workers of Eastern European descent were seen arriving at Ferguson Marine's site in Port Glasgow to pick up accommodation details - as other men were laid off.

One of the released workers, pipe fitter Brian Hamill says he is one of six men laid off in the run up to Christmas as there was no work, only to see some 13 workers of Eastern European origin being brought in shortly afterwards.

He says they were reassured by their sub-contractor that they would be re-started as soon as work was under way again.

At the time, Ferguson Marine, which has been part of shipbuilding on the Clyde for more than 100 years, said all new staff had settled status in the UK.

READ MORE: Design change work to try to resolve Scots ferry building chaos being done in Romania

After the Covid alert it was announced that the shipyard was being shutdown completely for a week in response to increased Covid-19 infection rates in the Inverclyde area and concerns about the new variant of the virus.

It was re-opened with briefings to advise employees of any changes to Covid-19 measures and to 'reinforce the need for personal responsibility in social distancing'.


One of the ferries being built at Ferguson Marine, MV Glen Sannox – which is destined for the Arran-Ardrossan route – was due to enter service in the summer of 2018, but construction delays meant that was put back.

The second vessel, known only as Hull 802, was supposed to be delivered to CalMac in the autumn of 2018 for use on the Uig-Lochmaddy-Tarbert triangle, but that has also been held up.

The previous Ferguson Marine owner, tycoon Jim McColl, who rescued the yard when it went bust in 2014, blamed repeated design changes by CMAL.

In August, it emerged that work in carrying out design changes to resolve the ferry fiasco was being carried out in Romania with the blessing of ministers.

A £2.12m contract was awared without going to competitive tender to an offshore company to complete design changes for one long-delayed vessel due to service Scotland's busiest ferry crossing.

The taxpayer-funded award was made last April to Isle of Man-based International Contract Engineering Ltd to supply engineering servies for the stalled construction of MV Glenn Sannox to "correct and complete" the design.


It emerged ICE's work for on the project centres around 80 specialists at a Romania base.

According to an official progress report, while ICE is "UK-owned" it has an operating base is in Romania, employing over 300 graduate naval architects and marine engineers "and have a track record of delivering complex vessel designs to shipyards across the world".