The failure of Scotland’s state-owned shipyard to compete for a Scottish boat building contract is an “international humiliation”, Anas Sarwar has said.
The Scottish Labour leader accused Nicola Sturgeon of presiding over “complacency and ineptitude” after Ferguson Marine failed to make the shortlist to build ferries serving Scottish islands.
The Scottish Government took the shipbuilder, based at Port Glasgow, into public ownership in 2019 to avoid its collapse.
But last week it confirmed Ferguson Marine had failed to make the shortlist to build two ferries that will serve Islay and Jura, with firms from Turkey, Romania and Poland in contention for the contracts instead.
Speaking during First Minister’s Questions at Holyrood on Thursday, Sarwar challenged Sturgeon to explain “how a Scottish yard, supporting Scottish jobs and owned by the Scottish Government failed to even make the shortlist to build Scotland’s ferries”.
Sturgeon argued that Ferguson “is on a journey back to recovery” and its focus is on the two heavily delayed ferries still being built.
She added: “This Government has protected shipbuilding jobs here in Scotland because without the intervention of this Government, Ferguson’s would not still be open, it would not still be operational, and there are hundreds of people currently employed at Ferguson’s who would not be employed.
“We will continue to support the shipyards, we will continue to support the workers there and we will continue to do everything to make sure that it is in a position to compete for and win contracts in the future.”
In response, Sarwar said: “The First Minister says the company she owns is on a journey; people want ferry journeys, and that’s what this Government needs to address.
“Saving the yard is one thing but sustaining the yard is another.
“Launching a ferry with painted-on windows. Really, is that the best we can hope for from this Government?
“The truth is that the failure to deliver these ferries are the result of complacency and ineptitude on the part of this SNP Government.
“That this Scottish Government-owned company can’t win a Scottish Government contract to build ships is a national scandal that is now an international humiliation.
“The only thing the SNP are good at manufacturing is grievance.”