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Overview: Battle for BiFab

Overview: Battle for BiFab

GMB Scotland calls for urgent action to seize wind power opportunities - Sunday April 30 2023

Scotland must show far greater ambition and commitment to seize the economic opportunities of wind power, according to one of the country’s biggest trade unions.

wind turbine

GMB Scotland & Unite Scotland - BiFab Joint Trade Union Media Statement

For immediate distribution: 17.00 hours, Wednesday 21 October 2020

Responding to this afternoon’s (Wednesday 21 October) breaking news over the collapse of a deal between BiFab and EDF for the manufacture of eight turbine jackets to support the Neart na Gaoithe (NnG) offshore wind project, GMB Scotland Secretary Gary Smith and Unite Scotland Secretary Pat Rafferty said:

“It looks like the Scottish Government Ministers have walked away from our best chance of building a meaningful offshore wind manufacturing sector, and in doing so has extinguished the hopes of communities in Fife and Lewis who were banking their future prosperity on it.

“It’s a scandalous end to a decade which started with promises of a “Saudi Arabia of Renewables” supporting 28,000 full-time jobs in offshore wind and now finishes in mothballed fabrication yards and no prospect of any contracts or jobs on the horizon.

“Both the First Minister and the Prime Minister promised a green jobs revolution but they didn’t tell anyone it would be exported, and it all amounts to broken promises to workers who needed these yards to be thriving instead of dying.

“The fabrication contracts for NnG, just like those on the Seagreen project, will be manufactured by the rest of the world. Two projects worth a total of £5 billion, requiring 168 turbine jackets to power our future, and not even one will be built in Scotland – everyone needs to let that sink in.

“This is what political failure looks like and people are right to be absolutely furious.”


Contact: GMB Scotland Communications on 07976 447077 or Unite Scotland Communication on 078101 57922


Sign the petition to save the Arnish fabrication yard from permanent closure and deliver jobs and work to the Isle of Lewis.

Sign the GMB Scotland Petition



Dear GMB Scotland Member

GMB Scotland – The Battle for BiFab Continues

Yesterday (Thursday 9 January), we met with Scottish Government Ministers concerning the future of our renewables manufacturing sector, and specifically offshore wind contracts for our yards in Fife and Lewis.

GMB made it very clear to Ministers that the current state of play is unacceptable, and frankly scandalous. The NNG contract remains up in the air, the Seagreen contracts are going to China and our yards need investment.

The Scottish Government needs to make good on its words about the so-called “jobs of the future”.  Next week, we will meet again with the Scottish Government – but also around the table will be the UK Government and renewable energy majors like SSE.

They would do well to understand the unfolding scandal which has again featured in the media this week: How Second Industrial Revolution Was Cast to the Wind

Our message will be blunt: If all parties cannot do the right thing and start investing in our renewables manufacturing supply chains alongside the reward of significant contracts, then they will be in direct confrontation with GMB and our members’ communities.

I also wanted you to be aware that we have formally raised the ongoing scandal of what is happening with our rip off renewables industry with the STUC General Council again.

Too many in the Scottish political and trade union bubble have been too happy for too long to preach about “just transitions” and “green energy revolutions” whilst work that should have been done in Scottish yards is shipped abroad.

GMB Scotland is absolutely committed to keeping up all the pressure we can on the Scottish Government and renewables industry to get work into our communities.

Our Battle for BiFab continues.


Hazel Nolan

GMB Scotland Organiser

Dear GMB Scotland Member,

Seagreen Scandal and the Battle for Bifab

Yesterday we told you the loss of the Seagreen offshore wind project would break in the media. You can read the full story in the link below:

The loss of another multi-billion pound Scottish renewables contract is an utter disgrace.  That’s why we called out the First Minister and the Secretary of State for Scotland today.

Please take the time to watch the exchanges from this afternoon’s First Ministers Questions and read our letter to the Secretary of State for Scotland in the links below:

Letter to Secretary of State for Scotland Alister Jack

GMB will continue to speak truth to power until the political class get their fingers out and deal with this scandal. You can be sure that we’ll pursue this relentlessly.

All is not lost. We believe we can turn this around and return jobs and prosperity to Fife and Lewis.

That’s what we are campaigning for and that’s why GMB is still battling for Bifab. 

Hazel Nolan

GMB Scotland Organiser

Dear GMB Scotland Member,

Seagreen Offshore Wind Project Contract 

We understand Tier 1 and Tier 2 contracts for the Seagreen project will be awarded to the UAE, China and South Korea.

This would mean more of the same for the Scottish renewables supply chain, including BiFab. It’s a disgrace and a scandal.

Tomorrow (Thursday) we expect the story to break in the national media. We will be blunt in our response, as you’d expect.

But how we confront this together is important.

Earlier this week I spoke to many of you and we will be increasing our organising and campaigning agenda once again. We need to recapture the spirit of 2017.

If the likes of the SSE and the Scottish Government think we are going to quietly accept this jobs scandal, they can think again.

Look out for updates over the next few days.

Hazel Nolan

GMB Scotland Organiser

Dear GMB Member 

The Battle for BiFab Continues 

Only the trade unions are pushing the employers and governments for accountability over offshore wind contracts for our local supply chains. 

But after all we’ve been through and continue to go through, there is no chance we’ll give the powers that be an easy ride.

That’s why we have intervened once again over the continued uncertainty surrounding the NnG contract carve-up. You can read more in the link below:

The public would have been led to believe by the likes of EDF and Scottish Renewables that the NnG announcements meant the good times were coming to Scotland. This is utter delusion. 

85 per cent of the manufacturing for the 54 turbine jackets will be done in Indonesia, while we wait to hear if we have secured a meagre 15% share and further contract work for the turbine pins. 

That uncertainty has meant more redundancies and likely a skeleton staff left in place at Arnish after the wind-down of the Moray East contract. It isn’t good enough. 

The battle for BiFab continues.

Louise Gilmour
GMB Scotland Senior Organiser

Dear GMB Member,

The Battle for BiFab

The priority of GMB Scotland is always the defence of our members’ interests.

Over the last year you have worked, marched and ultimately sacrificed to help ensure the continued delivery of Scotland’s renewables infrastructure. I believe that in the years to come, your work-in will prove a watershed moment for employment in the renewables manufacturing sector.

But I understand that it’s hard to see the positives at this moment in time.

The present situation is painful. Yards are closed and livelihoods have been lost and displaced. The people who did the most to keep BiFab viable were rewarded with a P45. That some of the people who ran the old company into the ground are still in the employ of the new company hasn’t been forgotten by GMB.

However, we know this is a long game and that’s why we have been campaigning relentlessly to ensure that when work returns to Fife and Lewis, which it will, we will build a sustainable future.

Since the purchase of BiFab by DF Barnes / JV Driver in April, it is fair to say that our relationship with the Canadian firm has been turbulent. Respect and trust has to be earned and nurtured but our relations with DF Barnes / JV Driver are improving and we believe that they are serious about a long-term future in Scotland.

GMB Scotland will not allow the Scottish Government or the Canadian owners to forget the struggle and sacrifice you made to give BiFab a future.

We now know that BiFab has been short-listed for major renewable manufacturing contracts which could help get the yards back off the ground and work in the door.  It is in everyone’s interests that BiFab is successful but we don’t want a return to ‘feast and famine’ manufacturing at BiFab.

We need sustainable and secure employment and opportunity. This is where trust will be tested. We have told the new owners what we will judge them on: Steady contracts; community investment; employment standards; apprenticeships; and trade union rights.

What will also become clear in the years to come is that the promises made by politicians a decade ago over Scotland’s renewables industries will amount to nothing more than a puddle of snake of oil.

Today we don’t have the ‘Saudi Arabia of renewables’ we were promised; just three fabrication yards that are closed and an industrial / political strategy that can’t command any more than crumbs from its own wind farm industry - one of the biggest on the world.

Scotland could and should have a flourishing renewables manufacturing sector but the fact is these massive energy projects are funded and delivered by a spaghetti bowl of international competitors.

Meanwhile, the taxpayer pours billions of pounds of subsidies into an industry that lines the pockets of other countries and private financiers, instead of redistributing wealth into our own communities. This is what political failure looks like both at Holyrood and Westminster – neither has clean hands in this scandal.

The DF Barnes / JV Driver purchase, along with the Scottish Government investment, is a chance for a fresh start in Fife and Lewis but the days of billions of pounds being pumped into the Scottish renewables sector, with no questions asked, needs to stop. The great renewables rip-off must end.

We will know whether BiFab has been successful with their bid for the Moray East work at the end of September. I just wanted to assure you that your union is straining every sinew to try and secure work for the yards in Fife and Arnish.

We are not giving up on the Battle for Bifab.

 Gary Smith

GMB Scotland Secretary

Dear GMB Member 

Joint Trade Union Statement – DF Barnes / JV Driver Meeting & Our Future 

On Wednesday 6 June, the Joint Trade Union representatives of GMB and Unite, met with the senior executives of DF Barnes / JV Driver at the Methil yard. It was the first time the Canadian management team had met us since they took a majority stake in BiFab. 

After the appalling way the redundancy announcement last month was handled, we went in to the meeting hopeful that lessons would have been learned and that the senior executives would be prepared to engage with the unions in a meaningful way. We hoped that there would something positive to say about the future of the 3 yards. 

The executives from DF Barnes talked at length about the experiences of the company and the positive culture in their business. They also advised us that there was a large amount of effort going into winning new contracts that will secure the long-term future of the yards. However, the reality is that there is no work coming to sustain our ‘core’ staff in the short-term and as far as they are concerned the redundancies will be happening. What we were offered amounted to nothing more than a promise of ‘jam tomorrow’. 

In the meantime, our members will be whittled down to a small team who will carry out very basic maintenance as well as the apprentices. On the other hand, senior management will be retained. Frankly, we consider this an injustice. The people who campaigned to save these yards and whom we have been told are BiFab’s biggest asset will be sacked while some of the people who helped run company into the ground being kept on the payroll. Against the backdrop of significant taxpayer support for DF Barnes / JV Driver and with so much to be done to get the yards cleaned up and fit for the future, in our view money should have been found to retain more core industrial staff. 

The engagement from DF Barnes / JV Driver with the trade unions has been poor. We have been kept in the dark whilst livelihoods have been lost. There is clearly no understanding from the Canadian Senior Executives about the role the trade union have played in keeping the yards open. Their attitude has been pretty contemptuous toward the unions and that isn’t acceptable. We understand that there is no work in the yards and it is a tough position but DF Barnes / JV Driver have done very well out of the Scottish tax payer, they are not here out of the goodness of their hearts. As such they will not get a free ride from the trade unions. 

In the coming days your Convenor will be talking to you about the situation and how we will confront it. Wherever this ends up and whatever course of action we decide to take, we will not be found wanting.

Our battle continues. 

Gary Smith                                                          Pat Rafferty 
GMB Scotland Secretary                                   Unite Scotland Secretary

Dear GMB Member

BiFab Update From Joint Unions

The following statement was issued today by the Joint Unions.

BiFab Trade Unions Welcome BiFab Deal

In a joint statement responding to this afternoon's announcement, BiFab trade union leaders Gary Smith (GMB) and Pat Rafferty (Unite) said:

"When the company fell into trouble last November, we called on everyone to pull together and battle for BiFab.

"Work still needs to be done but we hope today's deal is the start of a bright future for our members and their families.

"Let's be clear that this would not have been possible without the determination and solidarity of the workers and their communities and of course, the continued efforts of the Scottish Government and their staff in securing this investment.

"We look forward to meeting with the new owners as soon as possible, to learn of their plans and to help secure the necessary contracts that can help deliver prosperity for Fife, Lewis and Scotland."


Gary Smith                                                Pat Rafferty

GMB Scotland Secretary                         Scottish Secretary, Unite the Union 

Dear GMB Member

GMB Scotland in BiFab – Issue of Redundancy Notices

As you will be aware, BiFab management issued a formal notice of redundancy to workers across the company this morning.

This is a statutory response to the time-scale left between now and Saturday 31 March, the scheduled date of completion for the Beatrice contract work.

Although expected, I appreciate this will increase anxiety among members while negotiations between the Scottish Government, the company and new investors continue. In the meantime, it is imperative that the scheduled contract work continues as normal.

What this morning’s notice should do now is increase the urgency for a successful outcome to these negotiations. I will be in Fife tomorrow and in Arnish on Wednesday for meetings with your GMB reps and with BiFab management.

Joint Trade Union representatives will meet again next week with the Scottish Government where we expect to be given an updated position on the future of the yards from the Cabinet Secretary, Keith Brown MSP.

Our message going into that meeting is clear: Time is of the essence to save your jobs, yards and communities.

The objective of GMB Scotland in everything we are doing is geared towards securing the future of Arnish, Burntisland and Methil.

Please be assured that your trade union is doing everything we possibly can to defend your interests at this time.

In the meantime, if you have any questions at all, you can reach me on my email at or call on 0141 332 8641. Alternatively, you can also reach GMB via our dedicated campaigns email

Alan Ritchie
GMB Scotland Organiser


The Battle for BiFab is a crossroads moment for Scottish manufacturing and the Scottish economy.

But it’s not just about jobs and skills. The yards in Arnish, Burntisland and Methil support families and communities. They provide opportunity for all.
We are told time and again that these are the jobs of the future. So we urge all stakeholders and politicians: Don’t let our members’ livelihoods become a thing of the past.

Listen to the people. Letting these workers and their communities go under is not an option. We need to pull together and Battle for BiFab.

Please click on the image below or this text to watch the video.

GMB Scotland Update - The Battle for BiFab

Since the weekend’s developments, I cannot imagine how hard the situation has been for you and your families.

I will always be really honest with you. I cannot guarantee that we are going to get a successful outcome to this fight. The situation is really tough and you know that. But I will say this; if you had not taken the stand that you have the yards would already be closed.

The fight you and your reps on the Joint Trade Union committee are undertaking gives us hope and sends the strongest possible message to politicians and private stakeholders that you are fighting for your livelihoods. It is vitally important that we keep your struggle in the public and political domain.

This is the best chance we have to get the big commercial interests involved to do the right thing and it is the only hope we have of getting the leadership this crisis needs from the Scottish Government.

Tomorrow (Thursday 16 November) we will head to the Scottish Parliament and call on all politicians, parties and the public to stand with us and battle for BiFab.

The demo will assemble from 10AM at Johnston Terrace, leaving at 10.30AM to march down the Royal Mile to the Scottish Parliament. From 11 AM we will lobby outside of the Scottish Parliament.

Full details can be found at our dedicated campaign page:

GMB full-time officials are also on-call to assist with whatever queries or questions you may have:

  • GMB BiFab Full-time Organiser Alan Ritchie - 07813 541791
  • GMB Scotland Organiser Gary Cook - 07712 677594
  • GMB Scotland Organiser Hazel Nolan - 07921 885786

You can also email our dedicated campaigns email - - or call in our Glasgow Office on 0141 332 8641.

Absolutely everything we can do is being done and every resource we have will be made available to support your fight. You will appreciate that the situation is developing all the time and we will do our best to keep you advised of developments.

I stress that I will always be honest with you. In times like this I know you want all parties to cut through the bluster and get to the truth. That’s what we will also endeavour to do for you.

Our absolute priority is the defence of your interests – your job, your family, your industry and your community.

You have shown great dignity is this fight so far. Your solidarity is magnificent.

My best wishes to you all,

Gary Smith
GMB Scotland Secretary


Additional Resources

GMB Scotland in BiFab - Arnish Yard Update

download pdf154Kb (pdf) - 05 March 2019

Message from Gary Smith, GMB Scotland Secretary

Battle For BiFab Poster

download pdf363Kb (pdf) - 14 November 2017

Downloadable Battle For BiFab Poster