The manager of Dundee’s Michelin factory says news of its planned closure is “a huge blow to our employees and to the city of Dundee as a whole”.
Almost 850 jobs are in jeopardy after the French firm confirmed its intentions to close the Dundee plant by mid-2020.
The group said transforming its Baldovie factory to meet changing market needs was “not financially viable” despite tens of millions of pounds having been ploughed into the site in recent years.
“I understand that these proposals will come as a huge blow to our employees and to the city of Dundee as a whole,” factory manager John Reid said.
“It’s also a very personal blow for me.
“I have been part of Michelin Dundee for 26 years and I am very proud of the hard work and dedication shown by the team here.
“This factory has faced incredibly tough challenges before and we have come through thanks to the hard work and flexibility of our people and the union, and the backing of the Michelin Group.
“However, the market for the smaller tyres we make has changed dramatically and permanently, and the company has to address these structural changes.”
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Management had planned meetings today to break the news of the site’s closure directly to staff. However, after sources revealed the closure plans to The Courier, Michelin centrally released a statement on its corporate website confirming Baldovie was to be axed.
The pre-prepared communique was scheduled for release after staff were due to be informed today.
It said the market for the 16-inch tyres made at Dundee had seen dramatic decline, with cheaper imports from Asia eating into demand.
“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 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,” the statement said.
“Against this backdrop, the Michelin Group has had to announce its intention to employees this morning, to close the Dundee factory by mid-2020.
“The priority now is to provide the 845 employees of the factory with the most effective support possible to enable them to face the consequences of this difficult decision.”
The tyre maker will now enter into a statutory consultation process with employees and promised there would be enhanced packages for staff leaving.
“In line with its principles, the group will implement a personalised support programme for each of the factory’s employees,” the statement continued.
“In addition to enhanced redundancy packages and early retirement measures for employees at the end of their career, Michelin will propose a comprehensive plan to assist the employees concerned to start a new career as quickly as possible.
“This plan will include intensive support to find a new job, relocation assistance, and tailor-made programmes including skills retraining.
“Michelin Development, the group’s entity dedicated to local economic development in the areas in which Michelin has operations, will also be working with local stakeholders to help create 845 new jobs.
“In accordance with UK legislation, Michelin will begin a consultation process with employees, employee representatives and the trade union on the closure project, and on social support measures in the next two weeks.”
Unite Scottish secretary Pat Rafferty said the closure of Michelin Dundee was a hammer blow for the city and a betrayal of the skilled workers.
“Unite has been aware of the challenging market situation facing the Michelin Group,” Mr Rafferty said.
“This has been primarily due to the cheap foreign imports from Asia and as a result falling demand for premium tyres in smaller dimensions, which the Dundee factory specialises in producing.”
He added: “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. Unite will work day and night to ensure that all options remain on the table.”