Talks due over Michelin move to close tyre factory

Talks are expected to take place following the decision by Michelin to close its Dundee tyre factory in the next couple of years.

The firm has confirmed plans to shut down the Tayside plant, which has 845 employees, by mid-2020, saying the site has faced “serious difficulties” in recent years.

Troubles at the base, which opened in 1971, have been partly blamed on competition from cheaper products from Asia.

The trade union Unite described the move as a “hammer-blow” for Dundee, saying closure would be a “betrayal” of the workforce who have worked to make changes at the site.

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The Scottish Government said it will “leave no stone unturned” as it tries to find a sustainable future for the plant.

Economy Secretary Derek Mackay will be in Dundee on Tuesday, where he hopes to meet representatives of the workforce, the city council and the management team “to discuss whether there are viable options for the future of this site”.

Michelin announced its intention to shut the factory in a statement on its website on Monday evening.

It said: “Despite the group’s continuous efforts, and the factory employees’ dedication to making the site economically sustainable through the implementation of several action plans – 70 million euro has been invested in recent years to modernise the site – the accelerated market transformation has made the plant unsuitable and its conversion is not financially viable.

“Against this backdrop, the Michelin Group has had to announce its intention to close the Dundee factory by mid-2020.”

Michelin said it will implement a personalised support programme for each of the factory’s employees and will work to help create 845 new jobs in the area.

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

In September, it emerged that jobs were under threat at the factory amid an “influx” of cheaper foreign imports into the European market.

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 shutting the base would be a “hammer-blow” for the city.

He said: “It would be devastating and a betrayal of the workforce who have made major changes to working practices at the site in order to secure its long-term future.

“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.”

Scottish Labour leader Richard Leonard MSP said it was devastating news.

He said: “It is now key that the Scottish Government does everything it possibly can to keep the factory open and protect jobs. This should include working closely with Michelin, trade unions and the Dundee community to provide urgent clarity on the current situation.”

Mr Mackay said his immediate priority is trying to find a sustainable future for the site that will protect jobs.

He added: “I was informed at the end of last week of the possibility of closure and immediately sought discussions with the senior management team at Michelin.

“I know the workforce and unions have gone to immense lengths to make the plant as competitive as possible to secure its future, and we will leave no stone unturned in trying to protect the future of the Dundee site.”