Call for ferry contract award for Ferguson's

Inverclyde Council's Leader has called for a direct award of ferry contracts to Port Glasgow-based Ferguson Marine and clarity from the Scottish Government on the yard’s plans for work.

Councillor Stephen McCabe, who co-chaired the original jobs task force to save the yard from closure alongside then Scottish Finance Secretary John Swinney MSP, has written to the First Minister seeking answers.

He said: “When the Scottish Government took over the yard in Port Glasgow it was made clear that finishing the existing contracts and getting more work were the priorities.  Two years on and speculation is mounting about the future of the yard.  It is absolutely crucial that the workforce and the community get answers about its future. 

Councillor Stephen McCabe
Councillor Stephen McCabe

“Ferguson Marine is a large employer in the area and it is right that we do all we can to protect jobs at any time but particularly as we move towards recovery from the pandemic which has affected so many business sectors.  I have asked the First Minister to provide clarity on the Scottish Government’s future plans for the yard.  I am also looking for answers on CMAL’s allocation of £281m for vessels in Transport Scotland’s Infrastructure Plan and what arrangements can be put in place to make a direct award to Ferguson Marine to build the next phase of ferry vessels and help secure jobs at the yard.”

Letter to the First Minister:

Ferguson Marine

When Ferguson Marine was taken into public ownership by your Government in August 2019 the then Cabinet Secretary for Finance and the Economy, Derek Mackay MSP, said:

“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. It is absolutely essential that the outstanding contracts to build these two ferries are completed in order to sustain the Clyde and Hebrides Ferry Services network and provide vital support for the economies of our island communities.

“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.”

Nearly two years on there appears to be no firm date for the completion of the two ferries and there is growing media speculation once again over the future of the yard.

Given that Ferguson Marine is one of Inverclyde’s largest employers, I am writing to you today to seek a better understanding of the Government’s intentions for the yard and in particular your plans to secure further work beyond the completion of the two ferries that will provide continuity of employment for the current workforce but also deliver on the shared ambitions the Government and the Council had when our joint Task Force helped rescue the yard from Administration in September 2014. 

In this regard, I understand that CMAL has an allocation of £281m for vessels within Transport Scotland’s Infrastructure Plan and I would assume that arrangements can be put in place to make a direct award to Ferguson Marine to build the next phase of ferry vessels and help secure jobs at the yard?  

I would welcome an early response.

Councillor Stephen McCabe
Leader of Inverclyde Council