More than 70 Ross-shire jobs are set to be lost as redundancies at a carbon fibre manufacturer.
SGL Carbon has shut down several production lines at its Muir of Ord site. It is blaming a decline in demand for the material for use in making wind turbines.
The plant makes carbon fibre used in wind turbines and electric cars and is set to cut a third of its 230-strong team.
Scottish Government ministers visited the plant last year – hailing it as “a prime example” of how renewables would create jobs.
However, leaders at union GMB Scotland are calling it “a prime example of what’s going wrong in Scotland”.
Lack of support for renewable jobs, says GMB Scotland
Lesley-Anne MacAskill, a GMB Scotland organiser in the Highlands, said the SGL Carbon redundancies expose a lack of official support.
The Scottish Government recently promised £500 million over five years to create and bolster supply chains.
Ms MacAskill said: “SGL Carbon should be a prime example of creating well-paid, skilled jobs in renewables.
“Instead it’s a prime example of what is going wrong in Scotland – where there is no transition. The only thing in transition are jobs and contracts going abroad.
“We have heard many promises from the UK and Scottish governments of the thousands of jobs being created tomorrow.
“But nothing at all about practical support and investment to protect jobs today.”
Ms MacAskill believes more can be done to save jobs through support and investment.
She added: “We need practical plans that will protect jobs offshore for as long we need oil and gas.
“While building the production capability and infrastructure needed to create well-paid jobs in renewables.
“The redundancies at SGL are a body blow to the workers involved.
“But should shame politicians who continue to talk about just transition while failing to protect jobs and communities.”
SGL Carbon redundancies
The German-based firm said demand for carbon fibre fell by a third last year, resulting in the need for action.
The process, which begun last month, has involved a consultation period between GMB Scotland and the firm – which ends on Monday.
Talks have helped to reduce the number of compulsory redundancies and improved terms for workers leaving, according to the union.
SGL Carbon’s site located just outside Inverness is the only UK producer of carbon and oxidised fibres.
It is part of a global network of 29 production sites in the SGL Carbon group.
The company upgraded the site at Muir of Ord in 2017 to become one of two sites producing carbon fibre for customers in the automotive, wind energy, and aerospace industry.
SGL Carbon has been asked to comment.
Scottish Government response
A Scottish government spokesperson said it is putting money towards supporting renewable energy jobs.
A spokesperson said: “It was disappointing to learn of potential job losses at SGL Carbon based in Muir of Ord.
“This will be a very uncertain time for the staff, their families and everyone in the local area.
“Through ScotWind, the world’s largest commercial offshore wind floating leasing round, developers have made commitments to make billions of pounds of investment in our local supply chain.
“We will support this with targeted, strategic investment of up to £500m over the next five years.”
The cuts come less than a year after Scottish Government trade minister Ivan McKee visited the plant and hailed it as “a prime example of the positive impact inward investors can have on Scotland’s regions”.