BiFab desperately searches for work as redundancy notices are handed out

© PA
Workers from crisis-hit fabrication firm BiFab march through Edinburgh to the Scottish Parliament last year.

Fife energy services group BiFab is to continue its search for new marine engineering contracts as it handed out hundreds of redundancy notices to workers today.

The company said it was continuing to work with the Scottish Government, Scottish Enterprise and the trade unions in the hope of bringing in new work and avoiding job losses.

However, it confirmed  it had issued HR-1 advance notice of redundancy forms to an unspecified number of workers.

Unite the union last night said it expected 260 employees across BiFab’s three yards at Burntisland, Methil and Arnoish on the Isle of Lewis to be handed out to staff turning up for work today.

BiFab management today said the issuing of redundancy forms did not necessarily mean the workers would ultimately be laid off.

Instead, it said it was attempting to secure new work order to keep the business going following its current £100 million subsea jacket fabrication order for the Beatrice Offshore Wind Farm in the Moray Firth, which is due to complete by the end of next month.

© Supplied
BiFab’s Methil yard

The company was on the brink of administration in November after the firm found itself embroiled in a major cash flow crisis.

The Scottish Government led negotiations that ultimately ensured the company could continue trading through til the end of the Beatrice contract, but First Minister Nicola Sturgeon acknowledged at the time that BiFab’s long-term future was not yet secured.

“As we approach the end of the current project – and no further work is currently secured beyond, BiFab are going through a natural down-manning process and as such, through our statutory obligation we issue HR1 forms to notify the government of potential redundancies to permanent staff, where numbers proposed could exceed 20 employees,” BiFab said in a statement today.

“Issuing of the HR1 is part of the collective consultation process to inform staff about potential planned redundancies and not a decision that redundancies will take place.

“This type of action is typical to previous positions we find ourselves in being a project orientated type organisation.

“A number of target projects remain under tender – both within the renewables and oil and gas sectors, where further discussions continue in hope to secure further work across each of the BiFab sites and maintain continuity of employment in the business beyond the Beatrice Offshore Windfarm project.

“It is not underestimated that the timing of securing those projects is now critical as work is coming to an end of existing work, which is scheduled to be complete by June of this year.

“As you will be aware from the media coverage back in November 2017 when BiFab was under threat of administration, a rescue package had been brokered by the company/project stakeholders and Scottish Government to allow BiFab to continue trading through to the completion of the Beatrice Project.

“This was excellent news for the company and its workforce at the time, which had come at a very difficult time for us all.”