The Scottish Government has issued a statement on the future of Michelin Dundee after urgent talks were held earlier today.
Finance and economy secretary Derek Mackay has held talks with Dundee City Council, trade unions and the management of Michelin to discuss the future of the Dundee plant, following the company’s announcement that it has decided to close the plant in 2020.
During the meeting, Mr Mackay announced he will convene an action group of interested parties to explore all options to secure a sustainable future for the site.
Michelin confirmed it will look in detail at any proposals for the future of the plant that are brought forward by the action group or trade unions.
Mr Mackay said: “This announcement is devastating not just for those who work at the Michelin plant, but for their families and the whole of the city of Dundee.
“But the message from the Scottish Government is clear: Dundee is a hugely vibrant city and a great place for businesses to invest, to grow and to develop and the Scottish Government will do all we can to secure a future for the plant and the workforce.
“I have met members of Michelin’s group executive and they have agreed to consider a proposition that we will bring forward, to secure a sustainable future for the plant.
“I will be convening an action group to explore all options to secure a future for the plant and its highly-skilled workforce.
“I will chair an initial meeting in Dundee on Monday with the action plan being taken forward by Steve Dunlop, chief executive of Scottish Enterprise, and council leader John Alexander.
“Having spoken to the council, the unions, local politicians and UK Government, I am confident there is a shared desire to work together to secure the best possible future for the site and its workforce.
“At the same time we will work with the unions and the local management to provide the best possible support to the workforce at this very difficult time.
“We have been working with Tay partners to complete the arrangements for the £300 million Tay Cities deal and an additional £50 million package.
“We stand ready to move forward with the Tay City Deal as soon as possible and call on the UK Government to bring forward additional measures and investment, in light of Michelin’s announcement.
“Dundee has undergone a major transformation in recent years and a great place to do business.
“The Scottish Government will work with everyone across Dundee in our efforts to ensure there continues to be a vibrant future for manufacturing in Dundee.”
John Alexander, leader of Dundee City Council, said: “This is a body blow for every person who currently works at the Michelin Plant, but as a city we have proved time and again that we rally around and stand together when times get tough.
“We are absolutely committed to putting in the effort with the workforce, the decision-makers at Michelin, the Scottish Government and other partners in Dundee and beyond to achieve a positive outcome.
“We welcome the leadership shown by the Scottish Government in creating an action group and ensuring there is a robust response to this difficult situation.
“The council will be an active participant in the group and help to investigate every possible avenue to ensure that Michelin continues be a part of our economic future.”
The trade union representing workers at the Michelin tyre plant in Dundee said hope remains some jobs can be saved after the company announced plans to halt production within two years.
Michelin is understood to be the largest industrial employer in the city, with 845 members of staff.
The proposed closure has been described by Unite as a “hammer blow” for the city.
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.
Unite regional officer Bob Macgregor said outside the plant: “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.”
Dundee East MSP Shona Robison said Michelin had appeared to have a “bright future” in the city after investing £61 million in the plant over recent years.
She told BBC Scotland: “Is there a viable plan that could save this plant? That’s the question that needs to be asked and needs to be looked at in detail.
“If the answer to that is Yes then it’s about looking at what would that take, where would it come from. Is there something within the Tay Cities Deal?
“I don’t know the answer to that, I think we’re all trying to digest the news at the moment, but my view is I certainly haven’t given up hope.”
The plant will remain closed following the announcement until 7am on Thursday to allow workers to digest the news.
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.”