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GMB Scotland opposes shipyard's privatisation plan

Wednesday, May 10, 2023

GMB Scotland: Ferguson Marine must not be privatised

GMB Scotland has urged ministers to show faith in the workforce at Ferguson Marine and keep the shipyard in public hands.

Responding to comments by Neil Gray, secretary for the wellbeing economy, fair work and energy, about future ownership of the yard, in Port Glasgow, GMB Scotland senior organiser Gary Cook said returning it to private ownership risked sabotaging the progress being made at the yard. 

He has now written to the minister saying the skilled and committed workforce at Fergusons shared the determination to complete Hulls 801 and 802 as quickly as possible after previous management failures delayed the work.

However, he added, denationalising the yard now would only be a distraction and lead to a period of instability and uncertainty.  He pointed to recent work won by the yard and said, with ministers’ support, it could have a bright future after being saved by the Scottish Government.

“Allowing it to return to private hands now would mean the Scottish Government rightly intervened when the yard was at its lowest only for it now to pass on a profitable yard to the private sector.”

He said ministers must learn from the mistakes of the past, particularly at the fabrication yard in Methil – formerly owned by BiFab and now Harland and Wolff – where the government intervened to prevent the closure before returning it to private hands.

Cook said:  “As an island nation, Scotland can and must thrive in shipbuilding. That requires the political leadership to chart a future for Ferguson’s, our members and the wider community.

“Ferguson’s can be the jewel in the crown of Scottish shipbuilding if given the chance. There is no greater testament to the ability of the workforce than the recent award of a BAE Systems contract.

“This is work that must be carried out to a high standard with experienced hands. If BAE have confidence in the workforce, then so too should the Scottish Government.

“Our members have had their reputations dragged through the mud in recent years as politicians usede them as a political football .

“Rather than undermine our members’ work and skills, we have challenged all parties to outline a future for the yard.

“Any plan must include a direct award for the small ferry replacement programme and commit to ensuring the continued public ownership of the yard.”

 Contact: GMB Scotland Communications on 07738 486317 or email