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Talks to discuss options for Michelin tyre factory after closure announced

Michelin has announced it plans to shut the plant, which has 845 employees, by mid-2020.


Michelin have announced their tyre factory in Dundee is to close (Ben Birchall/PA)

Michelin have announced their tyre factory in Dundee is to close (Ben Birchall/PA)

Michelin have announced their tyre factory in Dundee is to close (Ben Birchall/PA)

Talks are due to take place to discuss whether there is a “viable option” to secure the future of the Michelin tyre factory in Dundee.

Dundee East MSP Shona Robison said she has not given up hope following the company’s decision to close the facility in the next couple of years.

The firm has confirmed plans to shut down the Tayside plant, which has 845 employees, by mid-2020, saying the site has faced “serious difficulties” in recent years.

Troubles at the base, which opened in 1971, have been partly blamed on competition from cheaper products from Asia.

The trade union Unite described the move as a “hammer-blow” for Dundee, saying closure would be a “betrayal” of the workforce who have worked to make changes at the site.

Ms Robison said Michelin had appeared to have a “bright future” in the city after investing £61 million in the plant over recent years.

The Scottish Government said it will “leave no stone unturned” as it tries to find a sustainable future for the plant.

Ms Robison said they should also explore whether anything could be done in relation to the Tay Cities Deal, through which £350 million of investment has been announced by both the Scottish and UK Governments.

She told BBC Scotland: “The first stage is: is there a viable plan that could save this plant? That’s the question that needs to be asked and needs to be looked at in detail.

“If the answer to that is yes, then it’s about looking at what would that take, where would it come from, is there something within the Tay Cities Deal?

“I don’t know the answer to that, I think we’re all trying to digest the news at the moment, but my view is I certainly haven’t given up hope.

“I know that the strength of the workforce at Michelin and their management team – I’ve never seen such a partnership in a private sector environment before – it is very very strong, and I know if there is a viable option that everybody would seize that, but we need to work out whether there is.”

Economy Secretary Derek Mackay will be in Dundee on Tuesday, where he hopes to meet representatives of the workforce, the city council and the management team “to discuss whether there are viable options for the future of this site”.

Michelin announced its intention to shut the factory in a statement on its website on Monday evening.

It said: “Despite the group’s continuous efforts, and the factory employees’ dedication to making the site economically sustainable through the implementation of several action plans – 70 million euro has been invested in recent years to modernise the site – the accelerated market transformation has made the plant unsuitable and its conversion is not financially viable.

“Against this backdrop, the Michelin Group has had to announce its intention to close the Dundee factory by mid-2020.”

Michelin said it will implement a personalised support programme for each of the factory’s employees and will work to help create 845 new jobs in the area.

It is to begin a consultation with employees and trade unions on the closure plan over the next fortnight.

The workforce can be assured Unite will fight tooth and nail to save our factory, we will leave no stone unturned to keep this factory openUnite

In September, it emerged that jobs were under threat at the factory amid an “influx” of cheaper foreign imports into the European market.

Production for the next three years at the site was expected to stand at no more than 5.4 million tyres a year, described by the firm as “significantly below capacity”.

Unite Scottish Secretary Pat Rafferty said: “The workforce can be assured Unite will fight tooth and nail to save our factory, we will leave no stone unturned to keep this factory open.”

Scottish Labour leader Richard Leonard MSP said it was devastating news.

Mr Mackay said his immediate priority is trying to find a sustainable future for the site that will protect jobs.

Factory bosses have closed the site until 7am on Thursday to allow the announcement to sink in, with workers still paid for their shifts.

Members of staff continued to leave and enter the base on Baldovie Road on Tuesday morning following a meeting with management.

The notice given to employees said the news “will have come as a shock to you and your families” and said they would have the opportunity to talk to a manager or member of the personnel team.

Explaining the reason for the proposed closure, the announcement said it was not economically viable for Dundee to produce small, low-cost tyres and a move to bigger tyres would be very expensive, with the capacity already existing elsewhere in Europe.

It said: “It is very important to understand that these proposals have nothing to do with the factory’s performance. They are driven completely by the very significant market changes.

“These proposals are in no way a reflection of the Brexit context.

“To allow you time to reflect on this information and speak with your families, the site will remain closed until Thursday at 7am.”

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