MINISTERS are under pressure to rescue Ferguson's with £25m of support after it was revealed that their advisers backed moves to secure the nationalised shipyard's future.

The Scottish Government has withheld financial support for the Port Glasgow yard despite its advisers being in favour of a support package to secure its future.

The board at Ferguson's has stated that a failure to get a committed investment of £25m to support future work casts "significant doubt" on its ability to continue.

Now GMB Scotland union, lead union at the yard, has called for it to be directly awarded contracts for future ferries to ensure its survival.

The development comes amid revelations that the commercial wing of Ferguson Marine has made losses of £765,000 over the past two years.

READ MORE: All you need to know about the Ferguson Marine bailout

The Ferguson Marine board have admitted that a lack of investment to upgrade facilities is jeopardising hopes of extra work from BAE Systems, which is delivering Type 26 frigates on the Clyde.

It has also placed a question mark over hopes to win a contract from Transport Scotland for the replacement of up to seven ageing ferries vessels serving the Clyde and Hebrides.

It's now emerged that the bid for £25m came after the Scottish Government commissioned a productivity study from private consultants First Marine International (FMI) to advise on how to "improve the competitiveness" of Ferguson's.

According to a briefing about the yard, sent to wellbeing economy secretary Neil Gray, and copied to the First Minister, the request for £25m was based on a combination of the FMI report and Ferguson's own analysis.

The briefing says that the investment request was assessed "with support" from alternative Scottish Government advisers Teneo "in terms of value for money and whether it would meet the 'commercial market operator' (CMO) test.

But the document reveals that in August, Teneo provided a revised report which included an evaluation of an updated business case. And ministers concluded that subsequent advice meant that the CMO test is "unlikely to be met" for the £25m investment proposed.

The GMB has called on the government to review the outcome of the due diligence test it undertook. It says investment is 'urgently needed' at the yard to allow it to compete commercially.

The union said ministers should directly award Ferguson’s the contract for seven small CalMac ferries to provide stability, while approving the £25m infrastructure investment.

Gary Cook of GMB Scotland, said: “The workers at Ferguson’s have worked with skill and commitment on these two ferries but for years have been blamed for mistakes made by others.

Greenock Telegraph:

“No one wants these two ferries finished more than the workers and they deserve a secure future built on a pipeline of work.

“That should begin with the direct award of the small ferries, but other contracts will only be secured by investing in the infrastructure of the yard to ensure it can compete commercially.

“The size of that investment will be dictated by the business plan but the workers deserve any and all financial backing needed to secure a bright future and ensure the heritage of shipbuilding on the Clyde continues for generations to come.”

Meanwhile Ferguson Marine (Commercial) Ltd registered a post-tax loss of £332,000 in the year to March, 2023, following a £442,000 loss in 2021/22.

According to the board's latest financial statement, there is "no financial commitment" beyond a budget to support the build of MV Glen Sannox and MV Glen Rosa "and therefore any overrun of costs or delay in delivery dates remain a funding risk".

Ferguson Marine has received a letter of comfort from the Scottish Government reaffirming a commitment to supporting a "sustainable future", but there remains a "material uncertainty" that casts "significant doubt" on its ability to continue as a going concern.

According to the FMCL board there are also risks and uncertainty over the yard's future operation.

Greenock Telegraph: David Tydeman of Ferguson Marine

The board state that the yard has 'successfully developed a working relationship with BAE Systems' and adds: "With investment from the Scottish Government in upgrading the shipyard facilities, FMCL would be well placed to compete for further larger units upon completion of the pilot project, but as investment remains unconfirmed... these opportunities are at risk."

The board says that to compete for new work, investment by the government in facilities and equipment "is required and approval of the plans submitted earlier in 2023 remains outstanding".

A Scottish Government spokesman said: “The Scottish Government is committed to doing all it can to secure a sustainable future for the yard and its skilled workforce. The government’s priorities have always been the completion of the two ferries, securing a sustainable future for the yard and its workers, and supporting our island communities that rely on this type of vessel."