STAFF at a major engineering firm at risk of administration are to stage a work-in in a bid to save 1,400 jobs.

Crisis talks were held yesterday at Burntisland Fabrication after managers filed a notice of intention to appoint administrators.

The Scottish Government has been urged to act and First Minister Nicola Sturgeon has vowed to “leave no stone unturned” to save the company, which has premises at Burntisland and Methil in Fife and Arnish on Lewis.

There are 251 permanent and 1,132 agency jobs at stake, and union leaders said workers were “willing to fight”. This includes the prospect of a work-in, where employees would labour without the promise of pay to ensure the current order is completed. The practice famously helped save under-threat Clyde shipyards in the 1970s.

Alan Ritchie of the GMB union told the BBC: “The workers have decided to continue a work-in. They will be maintaining the gates to make sure the contract, which is 77 per cent complete, will not be taken out of any of these yards. The gates will be maintained by the shop stewards and nothing will come in and nothing will go out without their permission.”

Unite union’s Bob McGregor added: “Folk are worried for their jobs but they are willing to fight for their jobs and work without the guarantee of income to maintain their jobs and the yard.”

The engineering company specialises in supplying the offshore oil and gas industry, and recently diversified to take on work for the renewables sector, building platforms for tidal generators and wind turbines at sea.

A £100 million contract was secured last year for part of the £2.6 billion Beatrice Offshore Windfarm project in the Outer Moray Firth.

BiFab said it was currently working on two significant contracts in respect of this facility, with one nearing completion and the other is expected to run to the end of April next year.

The company says it is facing a “critical cash position” and is “actively in discussion” to secure support to continue trading.

Managing director Martin Adam said: “We are very disappointed that we have found ourselves in the current position, which has arisen as a result of a challenging situation in respect of our ongoing contracts which have been providing much-needed employment locally in Scotland.

“We are seeking a rapid solution with our key stakeholders and the Scottish executive to our current cash-flow position and are hopeful that this can be achieved quickly to secure the future of the business and the 1,400-strong workforce.”

Sturgeon said she was hopeful a solution could be found, telling reporters: “BiFab is operational in a sector of our economy that is hugely positive and going from strength to strength, in terms of renewables.

“Without pre-empting the discussions that will be required in the days and weeks to come, that should give us optimism that a company like BiFab can succeed.

“The Scottish Government will be very closely involved in this. We will leave no stone unturned to try to work with others to secure the future of this company.”

GMB Scotland Secretary Gary Smith put pressure on the Scottish Government to deliver, arguing that it had positioned the country as “the Saudi Arabia of renewables”. He went on: “Every political interest in Scotland has told us that renewables are the jobs of the future.

“If they do not do something to secure the future of these yards, it will be a hammer blow to their credibility.”

Pat Rafferty, leader of the Unite union in Scotland, added: “Let’s not mince words here, the Scottish Government cannot stand by and watch BiFab being turned into an industrial graveyard.

“Make no mistake, Unite and its sister unions will not let that happen.”