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Last Updated: Tuesday, 6 March 2007, 17:01 GMT
Row over shipbuilder jobs crisis
Ferguson shipyard
Opposition parties are demanding ministerial intervention
Ministers have come under pressure over the crisis at Ferguson shipyard, where up to 99 jobs could be lost.

The SNP, the Tories and the STUC said ministers must take responsibility for any job losses in Port Glasgow.

The Scottish Executive and the Ministry of Defence (MoD) have denied a deal was done to bring work on a fisheries protection vessel to the yard.

Labour MSP Trish Godman is due to hold talks with the first minister on the future of the yard.

Unions have claimed that up to 99 of 126 workers could be made redundant.

Ferguson is the last private shipbuilder on the Clyde.

The yard had lost out on several executive orders under EU tendering rules but had hoped to win a 14m order for a new fisheries protection vessel.

I will be reminding Jack McConnell that we cannot be competitive if we lose all the basic skills
Trish Godman
Labour MSP

However, that tender has been delayed.

Trish Godman, MSP for the area, has been seeking confirmation of reports that the MoD had offered Scottish ministers a solution.

The Royal Navy reportedly planned to extend its fisheries protection operation, adding Scottish waters to England Wales and Northern Ireland, with the commissioning of a new vessel as a warship.

Ms Godman told the BBC's Good Morning Scotland programme: "This is nearly 100 men and their families in a small town and Fergusons has been an integral part of that town.

"It's just appalling news and I hope something can be done."

She said there were reports that there had been an approach by the MoD to change the Scottish Fisheries vessel to a grey ship which means it would be lightly armoured.

She said this would not change European rules but would instead change the definition of the ship.

'Basic skills'

"At the moment they have not put this ship out to tender, so prior to it going out to tender they could change it to a grey ship," she said.

"The Scottish Executive have the power to do that.

"I will be reminding Jack McConnell that we cannot be competitive if we lose all the basic skills."

SNP deputy leader Nicola Sturgeon also called for the reclassification.

"Before the contract for a new fisheries protection vessel is put out to contract it should be reclassified as a 'grey ship' in order that the work can simply be given to a Scottish yard.

"It's time for action now to save jobs and protect our shipyards."

An executive spokesman said there had been no offer from the MoD.

An MoD spokesperson said: "The MoD has no plans either to extend the Royal Navy's fishery protection patrols into Scottish waters, or to procure any ships for this purpose."

Ms Godman's comments

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