Published: 26/10/2017 15:12 - Updated: 26/10/2017 16:43

Grantown North Sea firm staff offered government help on closure

Written byTom Ramage

The plant at Grantown

A major jobs blow is set to hit Grantown with confirmation that struggling North Sea engineering firm MacKellar Sub-Sea Ltd will close its doors at the end of this month.

Owners Glasgow-based Clyde Blowers Capital confirmed the remaining 29 staff will be made redundant at the facility on the town’s Strathspey Industrial Estate

A spokesman said: "We can confirm that we have regrettably made the decision to close the MacKellar Sub-Sea facility, effective as of October 31.

"Despite successfully securing some new customers in 2017 – which avoided a complete closure of the facility earlier in the year – the well-publicised decline in the oil and gas sector, coupled with the change in procurement strategy from a major customer have unfortunately dictated the decision to close the facility.

"The remaining 29 MacKellar Sub-Sea employees will be paid the statutory redundancy pay."

Fifteen employees were laid off after the firm went into administration in early 2015.

The offshore fabrication specialist was bought by the Ferguson Marine Engineering in May 2015, allaying fears then of further job losses.

But the firm has continued to struggle and a quarter of its workforce was laid off last September as the UK’s offshore oil and gas sector downturn continues. There have been more job losses since, leading up to the firm’s closure.

Economy Secretary Keith Brown said: "I am very concerned to learn of developments at Mackellar Sub-Sea and the impact this will have on the employees involved, their families and the surrounding area.

"I can confirm we will be providing support to those individuals affected through our initiative for responding to redundancy situations, Partnership Action for Continuing Employment (Pace).

"Pace has a strong track record in supporting people back into employment which I hope is of some comfort to those affected by this development."

Local Highland councillor Bill Lobban, described the close as "disastrous" but conceded it was not unexpected.

"These well-paid jobs will be extremely difficult to replace and employees and their families now face an uncertain future," he commented.

"However, Badenoch and Strathspey is an ideal place to relocate business to. We have excellent road, rail and air networks which are continuing to improve added to the benefits of relocating to the national park – so we really have a lot to offer potential employers."

Fellow local councillor Muriel Cockburn said: "It’s a huge blow, with significant impact to an area such as Grantown. This is such a difficult time of year too, when people are looking forward to Christmas."

Local MSP and rural economy minister Fergus Ewing told the Strathy there were signs of recovery in the North Sea and West of Shetland old fields but it would take time for these to feed through the supply chain.

He said: "This company has been a major employer in Grantown and the wider area for a long time, and my thoughts are with all of those involved including the MacKellar family, and the staff who now face redundancy.

"This will be very sad news for each person and family involved. I know that the authorities through HIE and PACE will do everything possible to help those directly impacted.

"Any individuals who seek the assistance of the PACE service should access it, and if there is any difficulty with that, then my office as the constituency MSP will seek to help out should that be required."

The Partnership Action for Continuing Employment is a unique Scottish partnership initiative which provides support to employees when an organisation announces redundancies. SDS, supported by the Scottish Trade Union Congress, is on hand to offer help and recent improvements to PACE have included the establishment of a dedicated helpline and an improved website, which will open the services to more individuals and employers.

And support was swiftly offered by Margaret Sutor, senior policy executive at PACE.

She told the Strathy: "Through providing skills development and employability support, PACE aims to minimise the time individuals affected by redundancy are out of work. We are in the process of contacting the company to provide whatever support possible to any individuals facing redundancy."

MacKellar’s had developed a niche market for subsea wellhead protection systems, tree frames and guide bases, offshore transportation systems, hydro electric turbines and yacht berthing facilities.

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