UNION officials say staff at Ferguson's shipyard are running out of patience over the row which threatens the yard's future.

The business is on the brink of being nationalised in a row over the unfinished CalMac ferries MV Glen Sannox and what is currently known as Hull 802.

The vessels, ordered by Scottish Government offshoot Caledonian Maritime Assets Ltd (CMAL), are almost 17 and 23 months late, respectively, and are expected to cost double the original £97 million contract price.

Construction has been held up because Ferguson Marine is in dispute with CMAL over who should foot the final bill.

Costs for Glen Sannox and Hull 802 have escalated due to design changes, with Ferguson Marine and CMAL arguing over the extent of the alterations and subsequent bill.

Mr McColl owns the business through his company, Clyde Blowers Capital (CBC), and made an offer to stump up half of the financial overrun - around £50m - if the government would pay the rest in return for a stake in the business.

Ministers rejected the peace deal, saying it does not represent value for money.

It has since been revealed that the government has the option to nationalise the yard for just £1 as part of the agreement to loan the business £45m - money Ferguson's is unable to pay back at present.

CBC stands to lose around £30m if ministers wrestle control of the business, which Mr McColl saved from administration in 2014 and spearheaded a multi-million pound transformation.

Union leaders have urged an end to the uncertainty affecting staff at the yard.

GMB Scotland organiser Gary Cook said: “The speculation surrounding the future of Ferguson Marine Ltd is ignoring the greatest asset that the business has, which is the highly skilled local workforce.

“These workers have had to endure a summer of uncertainty, and their patience is running out.

“We either need to see a deal done now which finally ends the impasse and allows the workers to get on with the job of completing the existing ferry order.

“Or, if it is the case that this cannot be done, then the Scottish Government must take control of the shipyard and work with the workforce to secure a long-term future of shipbuilding on the lower Clyde.

“If the business were allowed to enter administration then the consequences for workers and for the whole local community in Inverclyde would be completely unacceptable and it must not be allowed to happen."

Meanwhile Inverclyde MSP Stuart McMillan has revealed that extra staff will also be required to finish the ferries.

The information came to light during high-level talks last week led by finance secretary, Derek Mackay, who has been brought in to sort out the mess.

Mr McMillan said: "This dispute indicates that we actually need more people working in the yard to complete the two CMAL vessels, so it's not as if there isn't opportunity.

"I want this matter resolved as soon as possible to remove any further anxiety for Ferguson's staff, but appreciate that time must be taken to ensure the right decision is made for the sake of our yard and community."

Mr McMillan, who grew up in the Port and whose dad worked at Ferguson's, said: "At the heart of this, there are 350 workers who will undoubtedly be worried about their job security going forward.

"They will have bills to pay and, in some cases, families to support.

"We also have the apprentices with many of them completing their apprenticeships this month.

"This is why I want the yard to remain open, irrespective of whose name is above the door."