Sunday 29 June 2003

Scottish craftsmen shortage

Romanian building labourers have been working at the Scottish parliament project and now it looks as though foreign skilled craftsmen are to be brought in too:
Mivan, a company specialising in interiors for prestigious public buildings, says it is struggling to find enough fully-trained Scottish craftsmen to finish the job.

The warning follows renewed questions over who is to blame for the Holyrood debacle, which has seen the costs of the projects rise to almost £400m. After importing Romanian workers for the controversial Holyrood project, one of the key contractors has now warned that it may have to sign up craftsmen from Poland and Portugal.

Mivan, which is based in Antrim, Northern Ireland, has parliament contracts worth £24m, including the joinery and fitting-out of the Holyrood debating chamber, media offices, committee rooms, and public toilets.

I have no objection to the employment of overseas workers - good luck to them in fact - but I can't help wondering why a country that built 20,000 of the world's ships * in a couple of centuries is unable to find enough carpenters to fit out its new parliament building. Perhaps we should start by asking why there are almost 100,000 people on state benefits in Glasgow.

(* Isn't it amazing just how many shipyards existed on the Clyde?)