Managers and ministers have come under fire for 'scapegoating' workers over the ferry fiasco which has seen two vessels delayed by five years with costs soaring.

Alex Logan, who has worked at Ferguson's for over 40 years says that the shipyard must no longer be used as a political football by "careerist ministers and incompetent managers".

Two new lifeline ferries Glen Sannox and Hull 802 were due online in the first half of 2018 when Ferguson Marine was under the control of tycoon Jim McColl, with one initially to serve Arran and the other to serve the Skye triangle routes to North Uist and Harris, but they are over five years late. The last estimates suggested the costs of delivery could quadruple from the original £97m cost.

Ferguson Marine went into administration in August, 2019, with design changes at the centre of fiasco with the Jim McColl-led board and the ferry procurers Caledonian Maritime Assets Limited blaming each other for the issues. It led to its nationalisation.

The row turned into a political football, and workers are known to have been unhappy with the way the yard has been dragged through the mud.

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It comes as monthly reports from Ferguson Marine, recognised there is a "real risk" that the vessel programme would suffer without buy-in from what was described as a "mature workforce".

Some staff have been known to have become despondent over past developments with question marks over whether the vessels would ever set sail.The Herald: One of two Caledonian Macbrayne ferries being built in the Ferguson Marine shipyard in Port Glasgow, Inverclyde.  While building two ferries on contract for CalMac, Scotland's public-owned ferry company, Ferguson Marine Engineering Ltd was put into

The new Ferguson Marine management has been carrying out actions to mitigate the risk, including a series of employee engagement sessions.

Mr Logan, who is the GMB union's organiser at the Scottish Government-owned yard said that the workers deserve no blame and was critical of previous management failures.

Mr Logan spoke in support of a GMB Scotland call for the Scottish Government and related bodies to replace the ageing fleet with ferries built in Scotland using Scottish supply chains and to form an industrial strategy for manufacturing to guarantee a stream of work for shipyards such as Ferguson Marine to grow jobs in the sector. It has been backed by the Scottish Trade Union Congress.

In support of the move, he said workers at the yard have become "scapegoats" for the ministers and managers responsible for the blighted construction of lifeline ferries.

Mr Logan said ministers should direct more contracts to Ferguson's and other yards as part of a new shipbuilding strategy, adding: “Despite the point scoring of politicians and the failures of management, I’m proud to call myself a Ferguson shipbuilder.

“We will not accept our name being dragged through the mud or a workforce being used as a political football for political gain."

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“Politicians have used Ferguson’s to further their own careers while jeopardising the jobs of those at Ferguson’s."

He said the experience, talent and skill of the workforce have been unfairly tarnished because of delays due to management changing blueprints mid-build.

“These were not problems of our making. Yet, we are the ones caught in the political crossfire.”

He said instead of trying to blame the workforce, ministers should recognise its talent and commitment and award the yard contracts for more ferries capable of securing lifeline routes to the islands.

He has been speaking in support of a motion put to voicing alarm at the Scottish Government’s failure to protect ferry services and, in a passionate defence of the workforce at Ferguson Marine in Port Glasgow.

The Herald: Ferguson Marine, Port Glasgow. Glen Sannox and Ship 802.

He called for an industrial strategy to replace CalMac’s ageing fleet with ferries built in Scotland, using Scottish supply chains and protect and create jobs at shipyards like Ferguson’s.

He said politicians loved to talk about the ship-building heritage of the Clyde but warned the industry must be part of Scotland’s present and future industrial strategy.

He said: “As an island nation, a strong, domestic shipbuilding industry is an obvious need. With the ageing fleet that serves Scotland’s islands, the need is urgent. Unfortunately, those island communities are being failed.

He said a recent award of a BAE Systems contract to help deliver Type 26 frigates was testament to the yard’s capabilities and said the Scottish Government should show the same faith in its work.

He said: “There can, and must, be a future for Ferguson’s. That requires the political will that was shown when the Scottish Government intervened to save the yard.

“That same will must be shown now by delivering a direct award of planned builds to Ferguson’s and other shipyards in Scotland for the new island fleets.”

The STUC congress supported a Rail, Maritime and Transport Workers backed by Mr Logan which expressed "alarm" at the Scottish Government’s failure to procure sufficient new vessels on lifeline ferry networks which continues to be "exploited by employers and industry commentators hostile to trade unions, equality, and public ownership".

It also calls for CalMac operated lifeline routes to be protected from competition from private operators.

And they call for "publicly owned and operated lifeline services" with "new ferries designed and built in Scotland, greater investment in services and all passenger fares, a stronger voice for communities, passengers, and increased employment for ferry staff on collectively bargained terms and conditions".

A Scottish Government spokesman said: "The Scottish Government values the skilled workforce of Ferguson Marine as part of Scotland’s shipbuilding industry and supports its efforts to ensure the successful delivery of these two lifeline ferries for our island communities.”

“The future of Ferguson Marine and its workforce, including a significant number of apprenticeships, is a key part of Scotland’s economic future.

“We realise the yard will need to win new contracts beyond the completion of the two ferries and that is exactly why the management team and Board of Directors are pursuing other opportunities.

“The Scottish Government’s priorities have always been the completion of the two ferries, securing a sustainable future for the yard and its workers, and supporting our island communities that rely on this type of vessel on a daily basis.”