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BiFab Joint Trade Union Press Release 

Thursday, May 2, 2019

Unions Call For Jobs And Investment Guarantees Ahead Of ‘Make Or Break’ Offshore Wind Sector Summit 

BiFab joint trade unions have described a crucial offshore wind sector summit today (Thursday 2 May) as a ‘make or break moment’ for the future of manufacturing in the Scottish renewables sector.  

Prompted by demands for action following the loss of manufacturing contracts on the Moray East and Kincardine offshore wind projects to the UAE, Belgium and Spain, GMB and Unite will meet with Scottish and UK Government officials, representatives from energy sector majors and key engineering contractors. 

Unions will bring to the table legal opinion arguing that Scottish Ministers can challenge offshore wind developers in cases of undelivered economic and employment commitments in project planning consent notices, alongside proposals for introducing ‘benefit agreement’ models to support local employment guarantees. Unions will also call for specific investment for Scottish supply chain firms from the recent UK Offshore wind Sector Deal, which aims to increase UK offshore wind content to 60 per cent by 2030 and support an estimated 27,000 jobs across the sector. 

GMB Scotland Secretary Gary Smith said: “The vast majority of Scotland’s offshore wind sector has been offshored. It’s an inconvenient truth which should be a source of shame for politicians and industry chiefs who continue to sell the green jobs revolution line. It’s also a fact that our licensing and planning processes have failed Scottish workers and their communities, evidenced by the commitments in the consent notice for the Kincardine project, promising Ministers significant levels of fabrication work for our yards, which were not delivered.

The legal opinion we have sought argues that failure could have been challenged by the Scottish Government and that it wasn’t resulted in an innovative manufacturing contract worth hundreds of millions of pounds going to Spain instead of Scotland. 

“Today we can start do something about this and we are very clear about what that looks like: The energy and engineering companies that dominate this sector cannot get these highly lucrative contracts if they do not commit to and deliver a fair share of jobs for Scotland. It’s a make or break moment. If we fail to act there will be no meaningful renewables manufacturing  industry for Scotland and the UK government will have little chance of meeting it’s offshore wind ambitions.” 

Unite Scotland Secretary Pat Rafferty added: “It’s time to shake off the shackles of failure and level the playing field in Scotland’s offshore wind sector so we can benefit from the next round of projects that are fast approaching. This includes NnG and Seagreen Alpha and Bravo.

There is absolutely no reason why we cannot have local or regional benefits agreement models in place for the Scottish energy sector, like they do in Canada and even here in Scotland through community benefit clauses for local government procurement contracts. This would help give our economy the legal teeth to ensure our supply chain firms are better equipped to compete for, secure and deliver offshore wind manufacturing contracts. 

“We also need a comprehensive industrial strategy for Scottish offshore wind sector. This will require sustained investment in our renewables manufacturing infrastructure and the championing by government of supply chain firms like DF Barnes. A decade ago we were told that Scotland would be the ‘Saudi Arabia of renewables’. However, the Moray East contract awards demonstrate that without urgent interventions then Saudi Arabia has more chance of becoming the renewables manufacturing capital for Scotland.”


Contact: Peter Welsh, GMB Scotland Communications, on 07976 447077 or Andrew Brady, Unite Scotland Communications, on 07810 157922. 

Notes to Editors: 

(1)   Kincardine Offshore Wind Farm Section 36 Variation, Decision Letter & Conditions, May 2018, 'Economic Benefits (P.43-45), accessible at:

(2)   Community Benefit Clauses (CBCs) are clauses within contracts requiring tenderers to commit to social benefits as part of the contract. These clauses are aimed at tackling issues in training, employment, economic regeneration and the environment through investment in local communities for longer term sustainability.

(3)   The Whitemarsh review (2019) commissioned by the UK Offshore Wind Industry Council (OWIC) recommended that “Government should assess developer Supply Chain Plans expecting developers to achieve 60% of life cycle cost to be UK sourced by 2030 and to demonstrate that 10% of the total capital cost should incorporate intellectual property developed and owned by UK companies.”