Unions representing nearly 500 workers whose jobs are at risk at Glasgow’s McVitie’s factory have met with the Scottish Government to try and save their livelihoods.
Pladis, the global snack company that owns the Tollcross site, announced the planned closure on May 11 and has entered into a consultation with staff.
Following the meeting on Wednesday, GMB Scotland said there was a “strong commitment” to save jobs.
David Hume, GMB Scotland organiser, said: “There is a strong commitment on the part of everyone involved to defend these livelihoods and to save manufacturing in the East end of Glasgow, and we will need that clarity of purpose to fully engage pladis and its MD David Murray in the weeks head.”
Pat McIlvogue, a Unite the union industrial officer, said: “Our question is quite clear, why Scotland? Why Tollcross? Lets not forget, Pladis, the Turkish owners, trade heavily on the name of McVities, and the 200 years of scottish history of that firm.”
The firm said the planned closure was a result of excess capacity in the business’ factories and is necessary to ensure its future success.
Pladis said it had shared its business case for the proposed closure with an action group set up in response to the proposed closure chaired by Scotland’s business minister Jamie Hepburn and Glasgow City Council leader Susan Aitken.
Following a meeting of the action group, Mr Hume said: “Nearly 50,000 people have now signed the workforce petition to stop the closure of the Tollcross plant, and determination is growing among workers and the local community that McVitie’s will not be another manufacturing casualty.
“It’s their factory, it’s their future, and everyone is fighting for it.”
Kate Forbes, Scottish finance minister, told STV News that the government would do everything it can to retain the Tollcross site and protect jobs.
She said: “We stand ready to help to facilitate a whole host of different options. My priority is to secure the long-term future of the site. “So I don’t think that any options are off of the table in order to do that.”
The UK Government business secretary said he is “not particularly aware” of the specifics surrounding the planned McVitie’s factory closure – with 468 jobs on the line.
Kwasi Kwarteng was asked by an SNP MP for help over the potential job losses in the House of Commons on Tuesday.
Local SNP MP David Linden said the loss of almost 500 jobs at the factory would be a “hammer blow” to the area and Scotland and he called for the business secretary to step in and support workers who could be facing redundancy.
It comes after repeated calls from union bosses for the Scottish and UK Governments to intervene and develop a plan to save workers from unemployment
Linden said: “The Secretary of State will be aware of Pladis’s proposal to close the McVitie’s factory in Glasgow’s east end, putting at risk up to 500 jobs in a very fragile part of the local economy.
“On Saturday, myself, politicians from across parties and, indeed, the GMB union, came together to send a loud message to Salman Amin in Turkey that doing so would put the local economy at risk.
“Will the Secretary of State join us in calling on Pladis to rethink these devastating plans, which would deliver a hammer blow to the local economy in Glasgow and Scotland?”
But Kwarteng said he was “not particularly aware of the specifics” of the situation, which first emerged two weeks ago – on May 11.
He did agree to meet Linden to discuss the situation and said he had previously spoken with bosses at Pladis.
Kwarteng said: “In my business engagement, I have been lucky enough, I suppose, to meet the CEO of Pladis, the McVitie’s operator.
“I am not particularly aware of the specifics of what [David Linden] has just informed the House, but I would be very happy to speak to him and others to see what we can do to ensure that the situation is improved.
“The business seems open; I had a good conversation with the CEO, but I would like to hear more about the specific details of that plant.”
Following the exchange, Linden said: “Right now, my sole focus is on protecting these jobs and that means working with everyone and anyone to ensure Pladis drop these plans to close Tollcross.
“Within the last week, I’ve engaged the Prime Minister, Scotland Office and now the UK business secretary.
“Their voices will all add to the significant weight of the action group which is united in demanding that the Turkish owners save this factory and keep Tollcross open.”