Workers at the Michelin tyre factory in Dundee today told how news that the plant is to close with the loss of almost 850 jobs came “out of the blue” after they received text messages calling them to a meeting to confirm its closure.
Stunned staff at the plant, in Baldovie, told of their anger after receiving news of the forthcoming closure by text message.
Union chiefs said they had anticipated restructuring at the plant and the loss of some jobs – and were shocked when news leaked on Monday night that the factory would close outright.
The Scottish Government said they would be working to secure a future for the site – with finance secretary Derek Mackay due to hold talks with trade unions and management at the factory on Tuesday afternoon.
Some workers at the factory were only recently moved to the Dundee factory from a plant in Ballymena, Northern Ireland, after it closed in 2015.
Those relocated workers now face a second redundancy in the space of a few years.
Staff at the plant were called in to a mass meeting at 8am today and given a letter confirming the grim news.
Signed by factory boss John Reid, it read: “The proposals to progressively cease operations in Dundee by mid-2020 will have come as a shock to you and your families.
“The first thing I want to stress is that mine and Michelin’s priority is to support you and your families through this very difficult period, from helping you deal with the news to helping you find the best possible outcome at the end of the process.”
The letter blamed “structural change” to the European tyre market, cheap imports from Asia and a move to larger car tyre sizes that are not manufactured at the site.
The Dundee site makes tyres for car wheels sized 16 inches and below – with demand in that sector falling dramatically in recent years.
The factory has been closed until Thursday with workers sent home on full pay to “allow them to digest the news”, union bosses said.
Workers at the site said they were stunned at the news – but said management locally were not to blame.
Some staff are on holiday and had had to find out about the closure through friends and family.
One young worker, who asked not to be named, added: “I’ve just finished an apprenticeship – this is a nightmare situation.
“I had hoped I’d have a long future here but that looks unlikely now.”