Paisley Daily Express
Calls for task force to help staff axed by clothing firm
Calls have been made for the Scottish Government to offer assistance to employees of Renfrewshire-based M&Co following news of the company’s “devastating” demise.
It was revealed by the clothing retailer earlier this week that a buyer had been found for the brand, but that all 168 M&Co stores would be closing, leading to nearly 2,000 job losses.
The company filed for administration in December last year as it struggled financially.
West Scotland Labour MSP Katy Clark, who met with administrators last month to see if she could offer any assistance, said she was disappointed the government didn’t step in to intervene and save jobs and is demanding the SNP/Green administration offer help to the soon-to-be jobless.
She said: “The confirmation that thousands of jobs are set to be lost is a devastating blow for the West of Scotland in particular, meaning yet more empty stores on our high streets.
“Despite my repeated pleas, the Scottish Government has outright refused to set up a ministerial task force with the explicit purpose of protecting jobs.
“Having met with the administrators, it is clear these workers will have little support beyond redundancy.
“Given the dearth of wellpaid jobs and opportunities across the West of Scotland, the Scottish Government urgently needs to step in and support these workers.”
Ms Clark’s Labour colleague and fellow West Scotland MSP, Neil Bibby, raised the issue in Holyrood yesterday afternoon.
Neil told the Express: “This closure is a particularly sad day locally.
“Until relatively recently this was a highly successful, thriving business with stores all over the world.
“But these are incredibly tough times for high street retailers.
“We should be finding ways to level the playing field with the online giants and help good businesses where possible with challenges like energy costs and business rates.
“With the closure of M&Co, many jobs in this area, and thousands across Scotland, are clearly in jeopardy.
“I know from my own experience that these workers have provided a friendly and helpful service to their customers over many years.
“Even at this stage, the Scottish Government should be pulling out all the stops to protect and support those workers in the difficult months ahead.”
Speaking in Holyrood yesterday in response to a question from Neil Bibby on the government’s response to the news, Renfrewshire South MSP Tom Arthur said: “The people affected by this development are our immediate priority.
“This is of course a very difficult time for the company, staff, their families and the local areas affected.”
The SNP politician added that he met with the company on January 19 to discuss what support the Scottish Government could offer. He said that they will liaise with the administrators and the government “stands ready to offer what help it can to those facing redundancy in Scotland, including through our initiative in responding to redundancy situations, Partnership Action for Continued Employment”.
On a task force to support workers made redundant, he said that it “might not be the best way to respond”, saying they are better suited to dealing with issues in a more confined locality.
“However, I do not want to preclude any options at this stage, and I’m more than happy to meet with the member [Mr Bibby] and Ms Clark as well to discuss further details on what action could be taken,” added Mr Arthur.