Michelin gives Mackay three weeks to try to rescue Dundee tyre plant

Michelin bosses have given Scottish Economy Secretary Derek Mackay until the end of the month to come up with a plan that could save the closure-threatened Dundee site.

Mr Mackay said the tyre maker had agreed to give him a hearing “in about three weeks’ time” so he can put an alternative proposal to them.

He has tasked Steve Dunlop, chief executive of Scottish Enterprise, to work on a “repurposing proposition” looking at different options for the plant, which employs 845 workers.

Mr Mackay told BBC Radio Scotland’s Good Morning Scotland programme: “I will be pulling together the best expertise, to put the best possible proposition to Michelin.

“They, whilst not wanting to revisit the decision, are at least giving me a hearing in about three weeks’ time so I can put that offer to them.”

Mr Mackay travelled to Paris to hold talks with senior figures from the French-based firm at the weekend, after learning of the proposal to shut the Dundee site in the next two years.

Mr Mackay said he still had hope for its future, adding: “When I expressed to them the things we are doing in Scotland, our manufacturing, our innovation, raising the skills and aspirations of our country, I think they took an interest in that.

“So I want to put the best proposition possible to them.”

Marc Jackson, Unite Michelin convenor said: “To stress to the workforce and the wider community in Dundee, Unite has a viable plan on the table. It is a plan that can work for the workforce and the company.” pic.twitter.com/T8gAfiJ4kX

— Unite Scotland (@UniteScotland) November 6, 2018

He called on the UK Govenrment to commit additional funding to the Tay Cities deal, which brings together the governments in Edinburgh and London, along with the local council and others, to try to boost the local economy.

The UK Government has announced £150 million of cash for this, with Holyrood ministers pledging £200 million.

Mr Mackay said he was “open” to providing additional resources, but said Westminster must do the same.

He said: “They’ve said they might revisit the £150 million Tay Cities region deal. We need more than that, we can’t dilute the city region deal, we need to add to it, and that is my call to them.

“We’re aware that this task is not easy one, and there are significant challenges to be faced. But we are, as a Government, determined to do everything within our power to prevent this closure.”

He held crisis talks with Michelin, the Unite trade union and Dundee City Council on Tuesday.

He later told MSPs the Scottish Government would “leave no stone unturned” in efforts to save the plant.

Mr Mackay said: “We’re aware that this task is not easy one, and there are significant challenges to be faced.”

Michelin confirmed earlier that the Dundee plant, which opened in 1972, is due to cease operations by mid-2020.

The company 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.