DEMANDS are being made for a taskforce to be set up to save a leading engineering company.

News that Burntisland Fabricators (BiFab) is on the brink of going into administration with the loss of more than 600 jobs has been described as “devastating” for the Scottish economy.

An emergency union meeting is being held today, while the Scottish Labour Party has pledged to work with the Scottish Government on saving the company.

BiFab has one yard at Arnish in Lewis and two in Fife and was thought to have a bright future in renewable energy and the second wind of oil and gas production.

The company builds platforms for offshore wind turbines and tidal generators as well as large-scale equipment for the offshore gas and oil industry.

It is understood BiFab has filed court papers announcing the intention to go into administration after suffering cash flow problems connected with a contract for the Beatrice offshore windfarm in the Moray Firth.

Last year, BiFab won a £100 million deal from Dutch contractor Seaway Heavy Lifting (SHL) to make 26 offshore wind turbine jackets as part of the £2.6 billion Beatrice project led by energy giant SSE.

BiFab is now reported to be in talks with the Scottish Government’s economic development agency, but the GMB, the main trade union at the yards, said it had not been consulted and would hold an emergency meeting in Fife today.

“This would be a hammer blow for BiFab’s workers and their communities in Fife and the Isle of Lewis, as well as the wider Scottish economy,” said GMB Scotland secretary Gary Smith.

“It goes without saying that our members demand urgent answers from the employer about how it has ended up in this position less than a year after securing such a significant contract.

“We are in contact with the Scottish Government and the possibility of losing more than 600 highly skilled and decent paid jobs doesn’t bear thinking about. Letting these workers and their communities go under is not an option.”

Lesley Laird, Labour MP for Kirkcaldy and Cowdenbeath, said it was “sad and disappointing news”.

“BiFab is a key strategic player in Scotland’s renewable energy sector and has built up an enviable reputation for carrying out this type of work,” she said.

“Moreover, BiFab is a significant employer having provided work for thousands of highly skilled workers at its yards in Burntisland and Methil for nearly two decades.

“The timing of this development is particularly cruel given that the Inch Cape, Neart na Gaoithe, Seagreen Alpha and Bravo projects were only this month given a final green-light, thereby ensuring a massive future market on BiFab’s doorstep.”

She urged the Scottish Government to “step in” and design a rescue package as well as provide support to aid the development of a longer term strategy for both the company and the industry.

Jackie Baillie, economy spokesperson for Labour in Scotland, said it was “devastating news for Fife and the wider Scottish economy”.

“This announcement has left hundreds of skilled jobs at stake and the Scottish Government must take immediate action to try and save BiFab and keep these jobs in Scotland,” she said.

“We urgently need a task force set-up, including trade unions, to assess all the options available for saving BiFab. We stand ready to work with the Scottish Government.”

“The only priority now is to save jobs, skills and yards from closure.”

BiFab was set up in Burntisland in 2001 and expanded to Methil before taking on the Arnish yard in Lewis.