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‘Kick in the teeth’

Job fears at PPE factories in town

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By Zac Hannay
Dumfries and West
‘Kick in the teeth’

EMPLOYEES at two factories in Dumfries have been told that their jobs could be on the line as orders for PPE have dried up.

Alpha Solway this week confirmed they have started a consultation with staff. The firm operates two sites in the town that produce specialist PPE equipment, and only recently opened a brand new multi-million pound factory at Gilnockie Business Park, Heathhall in May to go alongside the original plant in Lochside.

It was hoped that the new factory would create 300 jobs for the Dumfries area as the business committed to ensuring a fast and resilient supply of PPE domestically in Scotland, after experiencing rapid growth throughout the pandemic. Alpha Solway also had a £4.8m support package from the South of Scotland Enterprise (SOSE) last year to help secure the company’s long-term future in Dumfries. But recently the NHS have halted orders and there are now real worries over the job security of the 126 people employed throughout both Dumfries sites.

Director Steven Binnie said: “In the midst of the unprecedented Covid-19 crisis we committed £30m to Scottish manufacturing of high quality protective masks for the NHS. The partnership with SOSE (South of Scotland Enterprise) enabled us to invest in Dumfries to ensure that healthcare professionals could be confident of long term resilience of supply.

“The partnership, and our investment, which created a significant number of jobs in the South of Scotland, was made on the basis of ongoing orders.

“However in recent months NHS orders have stopped, with significant financial impact. As a result, we have been left with no choice but to review operations and staffing levels.

“We have therefore begun a consultation process with colleagues but no decisions have been taken on whether this will result in redundancies and, if so, in what numbers.”

He added: “We are working urgently to get clarity on the Scottish Government’s PPE resilience strategy. We’d like to thank our colleagues for their hard work over the past two years as we provided millions of masks to the NHS.

“We remain committed to Scottish manufacturing with the increased resilience and sustainability we believe is required if we are to avoid a reoccurrence of the problems of the past.”

One Alpha Solway worker, who wished to remain anonymous, said: “It feels like a kick in the teeth. I left my job during the pandemic to work there after they told me at the interview that after the pandemic they would be making other products.

“They only recently opened the new factory promising 300 jobs, three months later everything is up against the wall.”

Meanwhile, the Annan site is believed to be unaffected as it produces a different line of products.

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