Finding workers is key

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The news that work on the new Arran ferry is to be stepped up to seven days a week is good news indeed .

Maybe, just maybe, like the Covid pandemic, there is light at the end of the tunnel and we may – although not for another 18 months – see our long-awaiting bright, shiny new ferry.

The Ferguson Marine yard in Port Glasgow is hiring 120 contract workers to press ahead with the work on the MV Glen Sannox and her sister ship, still only known as Hull 802.

But, not to wish to rain on their parade, where exactly are they going to get these workers?

The company has admitted it is looking for UK-based workers only, after suggestions that the yard ran into difficulty earlier in the pandemic with contract workers from abroad.

And while Inverclyde may be an unemployment blackspot, the yard is looking for mainly experienced pipe fitters and steel workers to work the new weekend rota, which may be in shorter supply.

Turnaround director Tim Hair has issued the rallying call that: ‘It’s a great opportunity for skilled workers in the local community and surrounding areas to join us in a pivotal year and contribute to an important vessel project.’

And if  it means the shipyard will be in production seven days a week during spring and summer months, bringing the total headcount to more than 500, then we say – get recruiting.

CMAL, for which the two ships are being built, this week announced a replacement programme for up to seven ‘loch class’ vessels serving on CalMac services on the west coast.

It is work the nationalised Ferguson Marine yard would no doubt like to get its hands on but it is imperative, if this happens, that it does not come with the risk of any further delay to the new Arran ferry.