Unite the union says it was confident of securing a “flexibility agreement” before Michelin unexpectedly announced the closure of its Dundee factory.
Michelin, which yesterday announced it would close its Dundee site by mid-2020, announced in September a reduction in tyre production.
This was due to deteriorating market conditions in Europe, primarily due to an influx of cheap tyres from Asia and lower demand for premium tyres of smaller dimensions, which the Dundee factory specialises in.
Unite says it was working on the agreement in the past two months to secure the future of the tyre plant in Baldovie.
A Unite statement this afternoon said: “Unite has produced a flexibility agreement which is designed to mitigate the current market conditions in order to ensure the financial viability of the factory over the long term.
“It was this plan that Unite representatives believed they would be signing-off after consultation with the workforce this week. Unite had no prior knowledge to the company’s announcement.”
The flexibility agreement proposes a potential two-phase plan, which would be monitored on an annual basis.
In the first year (2018/19), the plan would have seen the workforce voluntarily reduce by a number of jobs and a move to a different production regime of four set shifts.
The current shift pattern is five set shift rotation on a monthly basis.
In year two (2019/20), if market conditions had not improved, then Unite’s plan included an option of further voluntary redundancies and a move to a three set shift pattern.
The flexibility agreement plan ensured no reduction in terms and conditions over this period for the remaining workforce.
At the end of this period, Unite and the company would re-assess the market situation.
During talks today, it was agreed to set up an action group of interested parties to explore all options to secure a sustainable future for the site.
The statement added: “Unite has also today held meetings with the cabinet secretary for finance, economy and fair Work, Derek MacKay, and Dundee City Council to discuss the immediate establishment of an Action Group that will work towards keeping the Michelin factory open.
“In addition, Unite has held further meetings on site with company management and the Cabinet Secretary.”
Marc Jackson, Unite Michelin convener said: “It is important to stress to the workforce and the wider community in Dundee that Unite has a viable plan on the table. It is a plan that can work for the workforce and the company.
“The flexibility agreement, which we believed would be signed-off this week, takes into consideration the current challenging market conditions but we have a plan in place to manage this situation over the coming years.”
“The creation of an action group involving Unite and other key stakeholders is an important and positive step forward.
“The workforce can be assured that Unite will work tirelessly to ensure that this flexibility agreement is reconsidered by the Michelin Group and that the factory can stay open.”