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VIDEO: Emotional scenes as Dundee Michelin workers leave factory for final time to bagpipes and applause

The last Dundee workers of the Michelin tyre plant were proudly piped off the site as the factory officially closed today.

The MacKenzie Caledonian Pipe Band piped more than 100 employees as they walked off together from the Baldovie premises watched by friends, family members and past employees.

Michelin workers leave the Dundee factory for the final time.

Factory manager John Reid, has spoken of his determination that staff would leave the factory with their “heads held high”.

There were some tears as the chapter closed on almost 50 years of Michelin making tyres in the city.

Michelin workers after leaving the factory for the final time.

Mr Reid said: “We’re not celebrating for us, we’re celebrating for all the things the factory stands for and the teams that have gone before us. The pipe band is one Michelin has supported over the years.

Michelin factory manager John Reid

“We are the last Dundee team that is going to operate the Michelin tyre factory and we recognise that should be marked.

“We are celebrating Team Dundee past and present and that’s why we wanted to leave the site together.”

Employees had spent a few hours saying their goodbyes to colleagues and the site.

Many have spent decades working at the factory.

Alan Davie, 56, a production worker and shop steward, joined Michelin in 1985 and is now contemplating whether to retire, work part time or volunteer for charities.

He said: “Today was an opportunity for a last walk around the factory and to walk out together.

Alan Davie

“I’ll miss the banter with work colleagues and the friends I’ve made. I’ll miss the jobs as well – some are very challenging.

“I can not fault Michelin they’ve been very good to me.

“A fantastic number of jobs have been placed on the boards for people to look at. I’ve been surprised at the number of jobs Michelin and the union have found for people.”

Out of a workforce of 850 when the closure announcement came in November 2018, 115 staff have failed to secure a ‘positive destination’ – another job, retirement or further education.

Stephanie Smith, 29, a verifier at the factory, said she would training to become a primary teacher.

“I was just back from maternity leave when the closure announcement came. It was a complete shock,” she said.

Stephanie Smith

“At the start it was difficult, there were a lot of people panicking. As people started to leave, it really started to hit us and you felt people were leaving you behind.

“I’ve had a plan and in August I start a course to be a primary teacher.

“I will really miss my colleagues – I call them my Michie family. We are already planning to meet up and I’ll definitely stay in touch.”

The factory, which has operated in Dundee for 48 years, stopped tyre production in March, more than three months earlier than planned, due to the coronavirus crisis.

Mr Reid estimated Covid-19 has cost his job seeking workforce around 70 jobs.

Support for the job seekers will remain on site for another year.

Mr Reid added: “Everybody has been emotional and we’re talking about big burly Dundonians getting teary.

“It’s right to be emotional. If you spend more than 20 years working a team and you don’t get emotional then it clearly didn’t mean anything to you.

“I’m happy people are emotional today. It tells me it meant something to them.”

 

More Michelin Dundee closure coverage:

‘We walk out with our heads held high’: Michelin’s Dundee factory will close today after five decades of production

Michelin Dundee closure: From farmland to 300 million tyres produced in 50 years

Michelin Dundee closure: Companies applying for Michelin Scotland Innovation Project could create 700 jobs

 

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