Dundee City Council leader John Alexander has said he fears the “ripple effect” that would follow the closure of Dundee’s Michelin factory.
The French tyre manufacturer opened its Baldoview factory in 1972 and generations of Dundonians have worked at the plant.
Staff at the factory were told last Tuesday – 46 years since the first tyre rolled off the production line – that Michelin intends to shut the factory in 2020.
Although Michelin bosses are adamant their decision is final, they have agreed to hear proposals for retaining the factory that an action group will prepare and present to them in three weeks’ time.
The action group held its first meeting yesterday and Mr Alexander said there is optimism Michelin can be convinced it still has a future in Dundee although he admitted it will be an “uphill struggle” to get the company to reverse its decision.
He said: “It was a productive meeting. If you look at the calibre of people we’ve got sitting round that table, they can make a difference and make something positive come out of this.
“We’re under no illusions we’ve got an uphill struggle ahead of us and Michelin have been quite clear about the rationale behind their decision, which is market conditions.
“That’s not something we can influence but what we can influence is what the future of that plant in Dundee potentially looks like.”
Although the full action group is not scheduled to meet again until next week, Mr Alexander said stakeholders will be working continuously to find a viable future for the plant.
Mr Alexander said: “In the next week there will be a whole series of meetings and conversations taking place, looking at scaling up those propositions.
“We are all acutely aware that we’ve got a matter of a couple of weeks to formulate those propositions and take it to Michelin’s executives.”
The SNP councillor said everyone on the action group is aware of how important Michelin is to Dundee.
“It’s absolutely huge and we feel the pressure of that,” he said.
“I’ve been absolutely clear that Michelin is part of the fabric of Dundee, it is in the DNA of the city.
“I’ve always considered it a Dundee facility, not just part of a larger conglomerate.
“The reality is the ripple effect this has is quite significant and at a time when we’re trying to revitalise and re-energise the local and regional economy this clearly sends the wrong message.
“We’re absolutely laser-focused on getting a positive outcome for as many of those Michelin workers as we can and retaining the footprint of Michelin, whatever that may look like.
“But we’re not shying away from the fact they have made a decision and it will be an uphill struggle to make a proposition that they are going to go for.”
The action group also includes trade unions, Scottish Enterprise head Steve Dunlop and Michelin Dundee manager John Reid.