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Scottish Government pledges support for Michelin staff

Almost 850 jobs are at risk after the French firm announced the site would close by 2020.

The Scottish Government has pledged to do all it can to save jobs at the Michelin tyre plant in Dundee.

The French firm, which employs 845 workers in the city, announced this week that production would be halted at the factory within two years.

Talks took place on Tuesday between management, unions and economy secretary Derek Mackay to discuss the future of the site.

Michelin said the market for premium smaller tyres such as those produced at the Tayside factory has dropped significantly due to an increase in cheap imports from Asia and a shift to larger car tyres.

The French firm said it was not economically viable to produce small, low-cost tyres at the Dundee site or switch to the production of larger tyres.

The site opened in 1971 is due to cease operations by mid-2020 in what the Unite union described as a "hammer blow" for Dundee.

Regional officer Bob Macgregor said: "We have to remain optimistic. We've got quite a long time before the plant closes to get a plan in place, to enact that plan, to try to secure at least some of the jobs for this plant.

"I met this morning with Derek Mackay and that was a positive meeting.

"He's keen to work with the unions and the company to put a plan to Michelin that he thinks will be attractive to them to keep the plant in Dundee in some shape or form."

The plant will remain closed until 7am on Thursday to allow workers to digest the news.

Mr Mackay, who met representatives from Michelin, the Unite union and Dundee City Council, said: "This is devastating news for the area and that's why the Scottish Government is totally focused on trying to salvage what we can from the situation.

"I'm establishing an action group that will bring together the best proposition we can possibly put to Michelin to try to ensure that the plant and the workforce have a future here.

"We can look at a range of interventions and I call on the UK Government to step up to the plate as well."

The economy secretary, who met senior Michelin executives in Paris on Sunday after learning of the planned closure, added: "I do believe there's hope for the factory but only if we all pull together."

Members of staff continued to leave and enter the base in Baldovie Road on Tuesday after a meeting with management.

The notice given to employees said the news "will have come as a shock to you and your families".

It added: "It is very important to understand that these proposals have nothing to do with the factory's performance."

Michelin said it would provide a personalised support package for each worker, with the opportunity to train in new skills and the possibility of being redeployed within the company or elsewhere.

It will begin a consultation with employees and trade unions on the closure plan over the next fortnight.

Production for the next three years at the site was expected to stand at no more than 5.4 million tyres a year, described by the firm as "significantly below capacity".

Unite Scottish Secretary Pat Rafferty said: "The workforce can be assured Unite will fight tooth and nail to save our factory, we will leave no stone unturned to keep this factory open."

Dundee East MSP Shona Robison said: "This has been devastating news for the workers, their families and everyone in Dundee. Michelin is an iconic business in the city and its workforce have over the years shown huge commitment and flexibility.

"The Scottish Government and Dundee City Council have been clear that they will do everything possible to protect the workforce and explore options for a sustainable future at the site, and I will do whatever I can to support these efforts."

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