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United front in bid to save jobs

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By Amanda Kennedy
Annan and Eskdale
United front in bid to save jobs

PINNEYS staff have received an ‘absolute commitment’ from Business Minister Paul Wheelhouse that politicians are working together to protect local jobs

The MSP met with Pinneys CEO Bill Showalter, his team, union Unite and representatives for non-union workers yesterday for lengthy discussions about the future of the factory.

Speaking after the meeting, he said the closure news and 450 job loss figure came as a shock to the Scottish Government.

Mr Wheelhouse said: “It came as a shock to both the workforce and ourselves.

“To some extent they were aware there was something going on in the past six months that we were not aware of.

“Having said that, it still came as a real disappointment.”

Of the workforce, he said: “I am really impressed that the people we met with today are fully committed to working with us.

“They have already been making great progress over the last six months.

“To some extent the factory has already begun to see significant improvement in its efficiency. So I believe we have a great workforce there.”

He added: “Just to reassure that I appreciate there is a huge interest locally and we are all working as one team here.

“There is no party politics going on, we are all united in trying to find a solution and that does not always happen, so that is an asset in itself.

“We are all on the same side and we are all here for the long haul. If there is a negative outcome we will work together.”

Councillor Archie Drybourgh attended the meeting yesterday, saying the chances of Pinneys being saved in full are ‘minimal’ and urging the community to be realists.

He also had praise for the loyal workforce, and he said: “Overall it was a good discussion and the emphasis is the staff. Moving forward it’s about the staff and creating as many opportunities for them as possible.”

Meanwhile, Secretary of State for Scotland David Mundell and MSP Oliver Mundell also met with the factory’s CEO.

MP David Mundell said: “The jobs at risk are the equivalent of thousands of jobs if this was the Central Belt.

“The focus is on keeping jobs at that site.”

He also believes that a full take-over was unlikely, but was optimistic at the range of potential buyers and vowed that everyone, including Dumfries and Galloway Council, were working together to minimise job loss and offer support to factory workers and the local economy.

The Scottish Secretary also met Gavin Stevenson, chief executive of Dumfries and Galloway Council, to discuss opportunities for encouraging potential buyers for the plant, as well as the UK Government to support the economy in the borders.

And he will be seeking a meeting with Marks and Spencer, a key stakeholder in the Pinneys site, to discuss current contractual arrangements and how they might assist in securing a future for the plant.

South of Scotland Labour MSP, Colin Smyth also met with Mr Showalter and called on him to halt plans to close the site following reports that the entire Youngs Seafood’s group are to be put up up for sale.

Mr Smyth said: “Reports that Youngs Seafood are to be put up for sale will add to the anxiety of the nearly 700 people who face losing their jobs if Pinneys closes. The company should call an immediate halt to any plans to close Pinneys as they have no idea what any potential new owners of Youngs may wish to do with the site.”

 

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