Ferguson shipyard taken over by Scottish Government

16 August 2019, 12:19 | Updated: 16 August 2019, 12:20

Port Glasgow

The Ferguson shipyard in Port Glasgow has been taken into public control by the Scottish Government.

Last week, bosses at the yard served notice of intent to put the business into administration, with 350 jobs at risk.

On Friday, the Scottish Government confirmed it had stepped in to save the yard.

The Government said the agreement will enable completion of the two ferries being built there for Caledonian Maritime Assets Ltd (CMAL), as well as ensuring a future for the site.

Speaking on a visit to the yard on Friday, Finance Secretary Derek 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."

He added: "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."

The move was welcomed by GMB Scotland organiser Gary Cook but he warned nationalisation would not be a "quick fix" and there would be challenges.

"Nationalisation secures the immediate future of the yard and that is a very welcome development, particularly after all the recent uncertainty," said Mr Cook.

"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 must be clear that nationalisation will not be a quick fix and there will be challenges.

"There will, for example, be limits to the amount of private-sector work for which the yard can compete but the alternative to nationalisation was closure and that was no choice at all."

He added: "Our immediate priority is to secure the re-employment of the workers released last weekend because their skills are essential and then we will insist the government works with us to develop a proper industrial plan for the yard because lessons must be learned.

"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."