Scottish shipyard to be taken into public control

The Ferguson Marine shipyard, Port Glasgow.

The Scottish government has reached an agreement with administrators to take the Ferguson Marine shipyard in Port Glasgow into public control.

The agreement will enable completion of the two ferries being built there for Caledonian Maritime Assets Ltd (CMAL). It will also ensure work continues towards delivery of the other vessels currently under construction and secure a future for the yard through continuity of employment for the current 300-strong workforce.

The news follows two years of extensive discussions to try and find a workable commercial solution. Marine engineer Tim Hair has been appointed as turnaround director, and he will lead efforts to stabilise the business and support the recruitment of an incoming management team, including a chief executive officer.

The Scottish government is operating the yard under a management agreement with the administrators while the yard sale process is completed. As part of the agreement entered into with the administrators, the Scottish government will acquire the shipyard at the end of that process should no viable commercial offer be forthcoming during that period. 

This process is expected to last up to four weeks and will include the administrator undertaking a market testing exercise. The Scottish government also say they will at all times remain open to discussions with any parties interested in securing a viable commercial future for the yard.

Scottish economy secretary Derek Mackay said: “We have always been clear that we want to complete the vessels, secure jobs and give the yard a future. 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. 

“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. 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 yard can have a very successful future and we must all now play our part to make sure this happens.”

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