Bid to save Miche­lin jobs

The Herald - - POLITICS - ALIS­TAIR GRANT

A CRACK team of politi­cians, in­dus­try pro­fes­sion­als and union lead­ers will meet for the first time next week in a bid to prevent hun­dreds of jobs be­ing lost in a fac­tory clo­sure.

Al­most 850 work­ers face los­ing their liveli­hoods af­ter bosses an­nounced Dundee’s Miche­lin tyre plant will shut within two years, blam­ing a slump in the mar­ket and cheap im­ports.

Dev­as­tated em­ploy­ees were sum­moned to the Bal­dovie com­plex – which has been a fea­ture of the city since 1972 – on Tues­day af­ter news leaked to the press.

But Nicola Stur­geon has pledged to leave “no stone un­turned” as min­is­ters des­per­ately scram­ble to save the site.

Slash­ing busi­ness rates or pro­vid­ing fi­nan­cial aid are just two op­tions be­ing con­sid­ered.

An “ac­tion group” tasked with se­cur­ing a sus­tain­able fu­ture has now been pulled to­gether by Econ­omy Sec­re­tary Derek Mackay.

It will meet for the first time on Mon­day, and will in­clude Scot­tish En­ter­prise chief ex­ec­u­tive Steve Dun­lop, Dundee City Coun­cil leader John Alexan­der and Scot­tish Sec­re­tary David Mun­dell.

Miche­lin trade union mem­bers will rep­re­sent the work­force along­side plant man­ager John Reid, while lead­ing busi­ness ex­perts have also been brought on board.

Mr Mackay said: “I have been clear that the Scot­tish Gov­ern­ment will leave no stone un­turned in our ef­forts to find a vi­able and sus­tain­able fu­ture for the plant and its highly skilled work­force. The Miche­lin ac­tion group will work tire­lessly in the com­ing weeks to ex­plore all op­tions and pro­vide Miche­lin with a propo­si­tion that demon­strates what sup­port can be of­fered, be it busi­ness rates or fi­nan­cial aid, to help re­tain a pres­ence in Dundee.

“Work­ing with the work­force and in­dus­try ex­perts, the group will ex­am­ine how the plant could be re­pur­posed for the fu­ture if Miche­lin de­cide to press ahead with the clo­sure.”

Miche­lin in­sists it in­tends to shut the plant in 2020, but has agreed to look at any new pro­pos­als brought for­ward. The French firm, which is the largest in­dus­trial em­ployer in Dundee, pre­vi­ously said that mar­ket forces were to blame for the move.

But some work­ers ex­pressed anger and dis­gust af­ter find­ing out about the de­ci­sion via so­cial me­dia and the press.

Union lead­ers de­scribed it as a “ham­mer blow” for the city.

It comes just weeks af­ter it cel­e­brated the open­ing of the £80 mil­lion V&A Dundee, which opened its doors in Septem­ber and ex­pects to draw around 500,000 vis­i­tors a year.

Coun­cil­lor John Alexan­der, leader of Dundee City Coun­cil, said the Scot­tish Gov­ern­ment had pro­vided “un­wa­ver­ing sup­port for the work­force and the city at this dif­fi­cult time”.

He said: “It is im­per­a­tive that the mem­ber­ship of the ac­tion group re­flects stake­hold­ers, ex­pe­ri­ence and those with an abil­ity to find so­lu­tions.

“I’m de­lighted to say that I be­lieve those iden­ti­fied do just that.

“This ac­tion group will hit the ground run­ning with one fo­cus, to re­tain Miche­lin’s foot­print in Dundee.”

It comes as pres­sure mounted on the UK Gov­ern­ment to com­mit an ad­di­tional £50 mil­lion to the Tay Cities Deal, aimed at bring­ing long-term in­vest­ment to the area.

Holy­rood min­is­ters have pledged £200 mil­lion to the scheme, but their coun­ter­parts down south have at­tracted crit­i­cism af­ter fail­ing to match this and promis­ing just £150 mil­lion.

Sim­i­lar deals in Ed­in­burgh and Glas­gow – which are help­ing to fund ma­jor in­fra­struc­ture projects – re­ceived equal fund­ing from both gov­ern­ments.

Mean­while, Scot­tish Labour leader Richard Leonard urged min­is­ters to ex­am­ine whether any un­der­spend by Scot­tish En­ter­prise, a quango aimed at boost­ing busi­ness, could be used to help sup­port the fac­tory.

He also called on the Gov­ern­ment to look at whether Miche­lin could sup­ply tyres to its ve­hi­cle fleet, as well as the much larger fleets across Scot­land’s pub­lic ser­vices.

He in­sisted con­tin­gency mea­sures should be put in place to al­low the plant’s 60 ap­pren­tices to com­plete their train­ing else­where.

„ Around 850 work­ers face los­ing their jobs at the Miche­lin plant in Dundee.

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