THE Scottish Government has reached an agreement with administrators to take the Ferguson Marine shipyard in Port Glasgow into public control.
Ferguson Marine entered administration earlier this week, after a long standing dispute over the costs of the build of two ferries. Costly design changes were alleged to have been made which were not included in the £97 million fixed-price and design contract between Ferguson Marine and Caledonian Maritime. However, the government sided with Caledonian Maritime and supported the view that the changes were included in the contract.
The nationalisation will now ensure the build of the two ferries in question, whilst also enabling work on the delivery of other vessels currently under construction at the yard. The government has also said that the shipyard’s future will be secure through ‘continuity of employment for the workforce’.
Economy secretary Derek Mackay visited the site after news broke of the deal to detail the Scottish Government’s plans for the future of the shipyard to the some 300-strong workforce.
Mr Mackay said, “We have always been clear that we want to complete the vessels, secure jobs and give the yard a future. I am here today to ensure that we hit the ground running in making that happen and to reassure Ferguson’s excellent staff of the government’s commitment.
“Public control will provide much-needed continuity of employment now and ensure the completion of the CMAL ferry contracts at the lowest possible cost to the taxpayer. It is absolutely essential that the outstanding contracts to build these two ferries are completed in order to sustain the Clyde and Hebrides Ferry Services network and provide vital support for the economies of our island communities.
“The alternative was for the government to stand aside while the company went into administration, resulting in the jobs being lost and the vessels not being completed. That was not an outcome I was willing to consider.
“We are now working to put in place a management team which will refocus all efforts on completing this vital government contract. We will also be working closely with staff and the trades unions – as well as suppliers and customers – to achieve the best possible outcome for the yard.”
GMB Scotland organiser and Confederation of Shipbuilding and Engineering Unions Scotland chair, Gary Cook, said, “Nationalisation secures the immediate future of the yard and that is a very welcome development, particularly after all the recent uncertainty.
“Our members were caught in the middle of a situation that had nothing to do with them and their relief will be palpable. It is five years since the yard went bust and the Scottish Government has prevented that from happening again.
“We can now look to the future and everyone should do so with a sense of purpose. With vision and competency we can get on with building the ships Scotland needs and together we can grow jobs and prosperity on the lower Clyde.”
Unite Scottish secretary, Pat Rafferty, said, “Unite fully supports the actions of the Scottish Government to intervene and nationalise Ferguson Marine shipyards. It’s clear at this stage that nationalisation was the only serious option on the table to save the yard and more than 350 highly skilled jobs. The Scottish Government have rightly acknowledged their obligations to the workforce, and the people the ferries would serve which must be acknowledged.
“Unite also welcomes the fact that the trade unions have been fully engaged in this process so far. This must remain the case going forward to ensure that the ferries on the existing contract become operable and future contracts can be secured. The yard can have a very successful future and we must all now play our part to make sure this happens.”