A historic Glasgow biscuit factory will close next year after its parent company rejected an alternative proposal designed to save jobs at the site.
The McVitie’s factory in the Tollcross area of the city supports almost 500 jobs, but owners Pladis has blamed “excess capacity” at other UK sites as a reason for the planned closure.
An action group of unions, the Scottish Government, Glasgow City Council and other interested parties put together an alternative, which would see a new factory built on another site.
But on Wednesday, the company announced it would be shuttering the factory after almost 100 years in operation.
Pladis UK director David Murray told the Daily Record: “We know this news will be difficult for our colleagues at Tollcross, so it is with regret that we announce our intention to proceed with the proposal to close the site.
“Our priority is to provide employees with the ongoing support they need as we continue with the consultation.
“Pladis is home to some of Britain’s best-loved brands which have been part of the fabric of our society for nearly 200 years. In order to protect them for generations to come, we must take steps to address excess capacity in the UK.”
Deputy First Minister John Swinney said the announcement was “extremely disappointing”.
He said: “The Scottish Government, alongside Glasgow City Council, GMB and Unite Union, are equally perplexed by this decision as the Pladis CEO gave firm assurances to the First Minister and I in July that they remained committed to working with us to review the proposal submitted by the action group – a serious proposal that aims to support Pladis to retain a factory in Glasgow and secure the jobs at risk.
“Alongside our enterprise agencies we are currently engaging with Pladis to understand why this announcement has been made and what it means for those employed at McVities.
“We remain absolutely committed to working with them to find an alternative to closure.”
Labour MSP Paul Sweeney accused the owners of rejecting the proposal “out of hand” and failing “to engage constructively”.
He added: “This news will come as a body blow for the workforce at McVitie’s.
“The proposal would have seen manufacturing continue in the east end, ensuring continued employment in a community that has borne the brunt of austerity.
“Pladis stated that they wanted to make efficiency savings, which is exactly what this proposal delivered, yet the company still see fit to simply dismiss it.
“I couldn’t be more disappointed – there are nearly 500 jobs at stake here in a community that simply cannot afford to lose them.
“While I appreciate that the First Minister has personally intervened, the Scottish Government must now step up and use every power at its disposal to save these jobs.
“If that means introducing a comprehensive state aid package then that’s exactly what needs to happen.
“We are at a crisis point in Scottish manufacturing. A proactive approach must now take priority – simply firefighting a constant barrage of redundancy notices from multinational companies is evidently an ineffective strategy and one that has been allowed to continue for far too long.”
GMB Scotland senior organiser Hazel Nolan said: “It seems clear now that Pladis had no intention of engaging in good faith over the future of Tollcross – general manager Jim Cuthbert told us they ‘expected more’ from the counter-proposals but offered no specific comment on what ‘more’ would look like.
“That’s not good enough. If Pladis are walking away from this community after nearly a century of production, and after 18 months of constant manufacturing during this Covid-19 pandemic, the very least the workforce deserve is honest answers.
“That honesty is also needed for the members of the action group because if a firm like Pladis no longer sees Scotland as a viable place to do business, then everyone needs to understand why and what must be done to prevent further manufacturing decline.”