Scottish Finance and Economy Secretary, Derek Mackay has held urgent talks with trade unions and Michelin management to discuss the future of the Dundee plant, following confirmation by the manufacturer it has decided to close the plant in 2020 with the loss of 845 jobs.

During the meeting, 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 brought forward by the action group or trade unions.

The Cabinet Secretary spent the day in Dundee meeting representatives of the workforce, trade unions and Dundee City Council and noted the Scottish Government and enterprise agencies stand ready to provide support.

“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,” said Mackay.

“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 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 (12 November) 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 GBP300m (US$394m) Tay Cities deal and an additional GBP50m 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.”

British union, Unite said it was a “complete and utter shock” to hear news this week [6 November) Michelin planned to shutter its Dundee plant in Scotland, insisting the tyre supplier was aware of the labour body’s job safeguard plan.

The French manufacturer’s announcement it intends to close the Dundee factory with the loss of 845 jobs was initially greeted by Unite as “a betrayal of the workforce,” but Michelin is citing “entry level products from Asia,” as well as a decline in premium 16″ and smaller tyre demand as partly to blame for its decision.

“The reality is in September the company announced a contraction in production,” a Unite spokesman told just-auto.  “As a result of that, Unite was working on a viable, flexible agreement…the company was aware Unite was working on this. If we got to 2020 and there was a change in the market or no change, we could reassess the situation. The company was aware we were working on that.

“That was what we believed we were going to be discussing with the company this week. When we put out a statement, we had no prior awareness of this [announcement]. It was an absolute, complete surprise and shock this was the position of the company. This is a complete and utter shock to the workforce – we had no prior knowledge.”