Eyemouth Boatyard Sets Sail on Fair Work Journey

With the help of South of Scotland Enterprise (SOSE), an Eyemouth boatyard which once faced bankruptcy has embarked on a journey to become a Fair Work employer.

For well over a century, Eyemouth’s boatyard has been at the heart of the town’s coastal community, providing a crucial service and employment to the area.

However, in 2017, the boatyard found itself in a challenging situation - as its previous owners were declared bankrupt.

Consequently, the yard faced imminent closure - until it was given hope when successful international business builder, Patrick Flockhart, bought it over and established it as Eyemouth Marine Ltd.

Patrick’s ambition was to rebuild the boatyard as a sustainable, profitable and professional business which was fit for the 21st century and could provide benefits to the wider community.

To make this organisational ambition reality, Patrick approached SOSE for help, and the economic and community development agency approved £492,100 of funding.

Part of this funding has been used to assist EML in its commitment to implementing Fair Work principles – something which has proved crucial to the organisation’s regeneration.

A large part of this commitment stems from the vision EML sets in its team charter - to build upon its rich heritage and become a ‘future proof’ 21st century business that can positively contribute to the community in which it operates.

Within the team charter, respect, communication and positivity are highlighted as being crucial to ensuring EML provides a safe and healthy working environment for its employees.

Patrick Flockhart, Owner of Eyemouth Marine Limited, said:

 “Although the start of our Fair Work journey was challenging, we knew that we couldn’t give up straight away.

“Making changes to the way an organisation operates can be difficult - and that is why building a high trust environment was crucial from the beginning.

“Our team charter sets out how our business plans to positively affect our staff, customers and the wider community - and shows that we want to be an organisation which is open to change and embraces taking part in a continuous organisational development process.

 “Implementing fair working practice is a huge part of our vision to become a futureproof organisation - as we want to be more inclusive and attract a more diverse workforce.”

EML also recognises the importance of trust in developing effective voice among employees and has developed a new meeting policy to encourage participation and engagement.

Promoting effective voice is an integral part of Fair Work and involves ensuring workers have effective channels of communication within the workplace and feel secure in their ability to have discussions with their employers and voice their views on important issues.

Patrick’s meeting policy has seen EML benefit from increased employee engagement, trust and participation, which he hopes will help the business succeed.

Despite significant progress being made since Patrick’s takeover of the boatyard, EML has stated it is by no means finished with its Fair Work journey and has ambitious plans moving forward.

The organisation hopes to increase the opportunities for development it offers staff, as owner Patrick acknowledged that at present, the organisation does not offer as much training as he would like.

EML hopes that as its company culture builds and its facilities permit, it will be able to offer more comprehensive training to its employees which adds value to the work they do.

And, although EML is an example of an organisation just beginning its Fair Work journey, the business has already begun to recognise some of the benefits Fair Work can bring.

Patrick added:

“We hope that by offering a working environment which is innovative, progressive and inclusive, we can attract more high quality staff who produce high quality work.

“Introducing fair working practices is a win-win situation for both employees and organisations themselves.

“However, organisations need to understand that changing company culture and promoting fair working practice is a continuous process, which needs to be developed over time, not rushed.”

Sandra Campbell, Fair Work Development Manager at SOSE, said:

“Investing time, effort and financial resources into Fair Work can help organisations reap benefits from both an employer and employee perspective.

“Implementing the principles of Fair Work is a long-term commitment, but the process can be the catalyst needed to take in hand difficult and long-standing business concerns.

“As EML has shown, it is possible to begin a Fair Work journey from any starting point and see results relatively quickly.

“We are here to support organisations no matter what stage they are at in their Fair Work journey and urge anyone who needs assistance to get in touch with us.”

Jane Morrison-Ross, Chief Executive of SOSE, said:

“We are delighted to be supporting EML in delivering its ambitious regeneration project, which will help it become the resilient 21st century business it desires to be.

“The boatyard is an incredibly important part of the local community in Eyemouth and has provided employment to many generations of local people since its foundation over a century ago.

“The fact that EML is now striving to be a Fair Work employer is excellent both for the business itself and the Eyemouth community, as it will ensure the organisation’s existing staff are content, and create additional opportunities for training and employment within the area.”