There is good news for the Bifab yard at Arnish in Lewis today (Tuesday) as it been announced that the Scottish Government has brokered an agreement between Canadian company JV Driver through its subsidiary DF Barnes and BIfab to support new opportunities at Arnish, Methil and Burntisland for fabrication and construction in the marine, renewables and energy sector.
As part of the agreement, announced by the First Minister, the Scottish Government will take a minority shareholding in the new company to demonstrate continued commitment to supporting the future of the three yards.
The workforce at Arnish had been reduced to around six employees as the yard transitioned to care and maintenance.
The news has been welcomed by Western Isles MSP Alasdair Allan, he said: “These talks have been underway for some time now and I am really delighted to see today’s deal – which will see work return to all three yards – concluded.
“When BiFab got into difficulty last year, the Scottish Government made a commitment to stand by BiFab and work to secure a long term future for jobs and that is exactly what has happened.
“I would like to pay tribute to my Scottish Government colleagues Keith Brown MSP and Paul Wheelhouse MSP, who have done a tremendous amount of work to ensure these yards have a future.
“The workforce at Arnish have demonstrated great resolve and determination in the face of this ordeal, and the unions have worked hard to achieve a positive outcome.
“Were it not for the combined efforts of the community and the Scottish Government, it is questionable what the state of play would be today.
“These are good jobs which are important to the island economy. I am eager to hear what orders the yard will get and how many jobs are likely to come back.
“Economy Secretary Keith Brown will be providing Parliament with what information is available this afternoon.
“This episode has highlighted a number of issues which will have to be addressed, not least the need to retain skills here on the island through apprenticeships and training, and ensure that workers can have confidence their employment will not be short-term.”
Western Isles MP Angus MacNeil, added: “This is a good step forward with investment coming in from the Scottish Government through HIE and Scottish Enterprise. The Scottish Government will be encouraging and helping in the gaining of orders.
“It is good that all three sites are involved, particularly with Arnish, having the capabilities of rolling which are unique in Scotland and the UK.
“They already have a great track record of producing, fabricating and delivering and we wish them every success going forward.”
Speaking at Methil the First Minister said: “We are delivering on the commitment I made last year that we would stand by BiFab and work to secure a long term future for the company.
“We have been in negotiations with DF Barnes for a number of months and today is a significant step forward in our efforts to restore BiFab to its place at the centre of Scotland’s marine energy industry.”
The First Minister also paid tribute to the efforts of the trade unions and employees at BiFab saying: “This announcement is also a tribute to the efforts of the trade unions and employees at BiFab whose dignified actions throughout this difficult time have played a huge part in enabling us to bring in new investors and creating new employment opportunities in Fife, the Western Isles and for the Scottish economy as a whole.”