The Scottish Government continues to work collaboratively with BiFab’s majority shareholder, DF Barnes, in pursuit of a strong future pipeline of works for the company, with the aim of securing and delivering future contracts and increasing employment opportunities. Claire Baker was in attendance at a very helpful briefing that I had with members who have an interest in BiFab.
This Saturday in Kirkcaldy, there will be a fighting for our future march and rally with the BiFab workforce, the local community, trade unions and supporters. The workforce and the people of Fife are showing commitment and determination to bring jobs to Levenmouth. It is important that all who have a stake in the future of BiFab work together. What preparations are in place for the next offshore wind supply chain summit, and when will it be?
Those points are very helpful. I appreciate the efforts of all politicians to help the Government to pursue work in that regard. We propose to take the range of actions that I discussed at the last summit and to challenge the United Kingdom Government about the contract for difference process. There have been welcome investment decisions, but it is crucial that we secure some contracts that will lead to the positive benefits of expansion and growth for BiFab. A range of actions are under way, and I am happy to provide a further briefing. I am working very hard to secure contracts here and now.
It is important to make the point that we must not confuse a campaign for work with poor industrial relations, because industrial relations are really strong with the workforce, trade unions and management as they try to secure work for the BiFab yards.
Annabelle Ewing is absolutely correct in saying that a change in the CFD process would be materially significant to the outcomes and prospects for the UK and Scottish supply chain, which would be really important to BiFab. The UK Government could make that decision, but it has not done so; it is reviewing the CFD process. I do not have much more to offer at this time. We are trying to make progress with the UK Government in that regard, but it seems somewhat distracted on many other matters. It is a matter of priority for this Government and could make a difference, which is why we will pursue a process that would allow conditionality. It would ensure that work can and will come to Scotland if the UK Government made that decision about the contract for difference process.
I was pleased to hear about the partnership with Lews Castle College that BiFab announced recently, which will bring new engineering training opportunities and work placements at Arnish. Prior to the DF Barnes takeover, a complaint that I often heard from Arnish workers was that no training or apprenticeships were being offered, which is an especially important issue given the workforce’s older age profile. Does the cabinet secretary agree that ensuring access for young people to such training opportunities is vital if we are to keep the yard sustainable and maximise local benefit?
I agree absolutely with those comments. We want to secure the pipeline of work that will further enhance job numbers and opportunities for training apprenticeships. I welcome that collaboration, which is why we are focused on securing contracts that will lead to further positive benefits for BiFab and to Arnish, in particular, as well as other sites that will benefit from those opportunities.