POLITICAL point-scoring by Labour is putting jobs at the embattled shipyard at the heart of the ferries debacle, a trade union has warned.

GMB – which represents many workers at the Ferguson Marine yard in Port Glasgow – has written to Scottish Labour demanding the party stop using the issues facing the site as a “political football”.

The union said the Scottish Government should be held to account for mishandling contracts to build two ferries which are now four years late and over budget by more than double – but said Anas Sarwar’s “careless” politicking could permanently damage the site’s reputation.

READ MORE: Ferry milestone reached as main hull nearly complete

Sarwar was recently photographed alongside deputy Scottish Labour leader Jackie Baillie with a blown-up mock-up receipt showing the “cost of SNP failures”.

But in a scathing letter to Sarwar seen by The National, GMB official Gary Cook claimed the Scottish Labour leader made “no attempts” to speak with the yard’s union representatives.

The National:

He slammed Labour’s approach to the issue as “disappointing”.

Cook wrote: “Careless attack lines against the SNP’s poor handling of Hull 801 and 802 are now jeopardising the future of the yard.

“The issue needs to be handled with care.”

He added: “While the Scottish Government must be held to account for their poor governance, this should not come at the expense of the reputation of the workers at the yard or at the expense of the long-term future of the yard itself.”

READ MORE: 'Regrettable' key ferry contract records were not properly kept, Nicola Sturgeon says

Ferguson Marine was nationalised in 2019 after its former owner collapsed into administration due to the huge costs of the project.

The Scottish Government insist the move to save the yard from closure was the right thing to do, pointing to the fact around 300 skilled jobs were saved in one of the poorest parts of Scotland.

SNP MSP Stuart McMillan, whose constituency includes the shipyard, said: "The Scottish Government will never apologise for saving 300, highly-skilled, well-paid jobs on the Clyde and keeping Scotland's proud shipbuilding history alive.

"People like Anas Sarwar and Jackie Baillie are talking down the yard and putting its reputation at risk.

"Scottish Labour became detached from the working class a long time ago and Ferguson Marine highlights that, they seem to be content to make hundreds of people redundant during a cost of living crisis - that would be devastating for the workforce and the community which is supported by the shipyard.

"This is exactly why Labour continue to slide into irrelevance in Scotland as they become more and more detached from hard-working families."

A Scottish Labour spokesperson said: "Anas Sarwar is a member of the GMB MSP group and regularly speaks to union officials and members. 

“We can understand the frustration of workers at Ferguson’s - it can’t be easy seeing your workplace constantly in the press. 

“They are not to blame for the failures in the ferry project, it is an incompetent government. 

“They will feel the same anger that their boss was being paid in nine days what many earn in a year.

“We also share their anger that ferry contacts are now being sent abroad, rather than creating more jobs here in Scotland.

“We believe in the future of Ferguson’s, but the workers and the public deserve answers on the decisions of incompetent ministers and the historic failures by management.”