HOPES that Cammell Laird can be saved soared yesterday after a management buy-out team finally put in a conditional bid for the Birkenhead yard.
But the good news was tempered by the announcement that another 153 workers will lose their jobs today, reducing the workforce to little more than 100.
The conditional offer for Laird's Birkenhead and Tyneside yards was made to receivers by a team headed by ex-boss John Syvret. He is expected to make a formal bid within the next 10 days.
Meanwhile, a second buy-out team headed by another ex-director, Dave Gillam, is still waiting in the wings and could make an offer just for the Birkenhead site.
GMB Union senior organiser Charlie Leonard said: 'It is good news that there is going to be a future for the site. That's good for the lads and lasses that work there and good for the area.'
He added: 'John Syvret is an ex-director and knows the business. We have worked with him in the past and we would be willing to work with him in the future.'
It was unclear last night whether Mr Syvret's team, which also includes ex-finance director Brett Martin, would buy Cammell Laird as an ongoing concern or after it has been mothballed.
If the shipyard closes before being bought, a new owner could, under employment legislation, change the terms and conditions of workers who were re-employed.
And that has concerned union leaders, unhappy that hourly and overtime pay rates, plus holiday arrangements, could be adversely affected.
'We would prefer a bid that would give continuity of employment for our members,' said Mr Leonard.
He said the mood among the workforce was one of 'muted celebration', plus sympathy for the 153 workers laid off today, and that full-blown celebrations would be on ice 'until the ink is dry on any contract'.
For the AEEU, regional officer Ted Gilbertson said he was 'relieved that at long last a specific bid is being made'.
However, he added that the relief was 'tinged with regret' that this did not happen several weeks ago.
A spokeswoman for receivers PricewaterhouseCoopers refused to comment yesterday, saying talks were ongoing but they had 'nothing further to announce'.
She confirmed that 153 jobs would be shed at the Birkenhead yard today when work finishes on RFA Argus. Work on a ferry, The River Lune, finishes at the weekend.
The spokeswoman said it was 'likely' the 150-year-old Birkenhead yard would be mothballed within the next few days, although the situation was being reviewed.
Mr Syvret, who has already rescued part of the Laird business, ship repairers Wright and Beyer, was unavailable for comment yesterday.
Cammell Laird's Tyneside yard sees the loss of 166 jobs today, while 11 workers are being laid off on Teesside.