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Scottish Government takes over stricken Ferguson shipyard

Around 350 jobs have been safeguarded following the move after the firm went into administration.

By STV News

Published 16 Aug 2019.

Around 350 jobs have been safeguarded following the Scottish Government's takeover of Ferguson shipyard.

The Port Glasgow site will initially be leased from administrators after facing an uncertain future.

Around 60 of the 350 workers had stopped working at the yard due to the withdrawal of contract agencies in a bid to protect their financial position.

STV News understands it would cost around £70m for a private buyer to purchase the firm following its administration.

Ferguson's has been in a long-running dispute with the Scottish Government over a contract to build two ferries.

The £97m deal for CalMac is behind schedule and considerably over budget.

Economy secretary Derek Mackay visited the yard on Friday morning to speak to the workforce and outlined the Scottish Government's commitment to achieving the best possible outcome.

He 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."

He added: "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 CSEU 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 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.

"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."

Ferguson's was previously in administration five years ago until it was bought by Clyde Blowers Capital (CBC).

Ferguson's has said it expects to lose nearly £40m on the ferry deal, which is being procured through the public-sector agency CMAL.

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 has 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."

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