Reports that a company with no connection to the aluminium industry is interested in acquiring the Rio Tinto smelter at Fort William have raised job fears.
The plant employs 150 people and Rio Tinto is currently carrying out “a strategic review” of all its assets in Lochaber.
Highland Council has stressed the company’s importance as a major employer in the local economy, pointing out that it is seven times as significant to Lochaber as the Tata Steel works is to Lanarkshire.
Scottish Labour’s deputy leader, Alex Rowley, joined party candidate for Skye, Lochaber and Badenoch, Linda Stewart, and Fort William and Ardnamurchan councillor, Brian Murphy, to meet union members on Saturday.
Mr Rowley said: “What is concerning is that social media is now suggesting that a company which is not involved in aluminium manufacture has been looking around the plant.
“If the plant closed, it would have a devastating impact on the local economy, as well as on the Scottish economy.
“The fact that there is a possible threat of closure should bring key stakeholders together now. They shouldn’t wait until it’s too late – they need to be proactive.”
He added that he would be having early discussions with the trade unions involved.
Mrs Stewart was particularly worried to hear that workers were being kept in the dark after spotting people from a hydroponics company looking around the site.
She intends to write to the company asking for more information and wants a meeting with senior management.
She added: “Workers are increasingly fearful for their jobs and their future. Labour wants to keep manufacturing jobs in the area.
“We cannot let the last aluminium smelter in the UK close without a fight.”
Mr Murphy said: “I worked there for 21 years and my father before me, just like many other people in Lochaber.
“So I am acutely aware of how important the smelter is to the local economy.
“The knock-on effects of any possible plant closure would be devastating for the west Highlands and, in total, could mean the loss of over 300 jobs.”