An estimated 70 employees at commercial shipyard Ferguson Shipbuilders are thought to have lost their jobs, after the business entered into company administration, leaving just seven members of staff left on the company’s books.
The Clyde-based organisation has been running since 1902, and is the only remaining shipyard in its area, though it has been struggling for an extended period of time due to a shortfall in the number of orders it was receiving and growing cash flow problems.
KPMG have been assigned the role of managing the company’s administration, with the organisation’s Blair Nimmo and Tony Friar being appointed joint administrators.
Both Nimmo and Friar have reiterated that they are currently looking at “all available options” to help the shipyard finish its outstanding work, including the complete sale of the company, its assets and infrastructure.
GMB representative Alex Logan identified that the company’s employees were “shocked”, and outlined the Scottish government’s intention to organise a task force to assist its remaining staff.
Mr Logan said: “There was no warning about this at all and it has come as a complete shock to the workforce.
“We’ve had an idea since before the summer that something was going on but have been unable to get any information from the management.
“We thought that maybe the yard was going to be sold but there was no indication it was going to close.”
The GMB also disclosed that a small selection of Ferguson Shipyard’s previous staff base had been kept, in order to maintain the condition of its premises and complete the outstanding work that the company has yet to fulfil.
Joint administrator Blair Nimmo, who is also the head of restructuring for KPMG, said: “Ferguson Shipbuilders is a leading name in the industry with a rich heritage dating back more than 110 years and is the last commercial shipbuilder operating on the River Clyde.
“However, a lack of significant orders and mounting cash flow pressure has led to the group’s inability to continue trading.
“We would like to thank staff for their co-operation during this difficult period. We will be working with employees and the relevant government agencies to ensure that the full range of support is available to all those affected.”
Mr Nimmo added: “We would encourage any party who has an interest in acquiring the group’s business and facilities to contact us as soon as possible.”
‘Lack of financial strength’
Although Ferguson’s established its reputation on the basis of its shipbuilding prowess, it has also garnered widespread acclaim over the past century for its quality joinery and engineering services, as well as its distribution of hydraulics and fluids.
KPMG identified that the business had begun to “experience significant cash flow pressure in recent months”, which had arisen from its “lack of financial strength”. This long-term decline allegedly “hindered its ability to secure new vessel contracts from its core customer base”, and had also made it impossible to obtain investment into the company in recent weeks.
Jim Moohan, GMB Scotland senior organiser and chair of the Confederation of Shipbuilding and Engineering Unions (CSEU), led growing calls for Scottish First Minister, Alex Salmond, to get involved directly with solving the ongoing problem of Scottish shipbuilding.
He said: “This is the last remaining commercial shipbuilding yard in Scotland. It has now locked its doors to the workforce.
“Unless the Scottish government intervenes this puts the final key in the door of commercial shipbuilding which has a history of several hundred years in Scotland.
“Not to intervene will be an utter betrayal by the Scottish government and the First Minister, Alex Salmond.”
Finance Secretary John Swinney, confirmed that the Scottish government are assembling a task force to help the current staff at Ferguson’s, and promised to work closely with administrators, in order to try and retrieve the situation as effectively as possible.
“The loss of any jobs in Port Glasgow is a devastating blow and we will work closely with the administrator to deliver an integrated service to those losing their jobs,” he said.