The site of a closure-hit Dundee tyre factory could provide more jobs than ever before amid “significant” interest from the public and private sector, according to the city’s council leader.
John Alexander said there had been “a hell of a lot of progress” in efforts to secure reskilling opportunities for the Michelin Dundee workforce and a potential repurposing of the plant, which will cease manufacturing by mid-2020.
Mr Alexander, who sits on the Michelin Dundee Action Group, a collective aiming to find positive outcomes from the closure, spoke out following Tuesday’ royal visit by the Earl and Countess of Strathearn.
However, any optimism over the future of the Michelin site is likely to be tempered by this week’s revelation that 88 positions could be lost at Tesco’s customer contact centre in Dundee.
Michelin announced the end of tyre production at Baldovie in November, blaming falling demand for 16-inch tyres and competition from cheap imports.
The action group signed a memorandum of understanding with bosses of the French firm last month.
It will see Michelin work with agencies to create a viable future for the site, and potentially hundreds of jobs.
Mr Alexander said: “I would want to be in a position where we have the site working for the same number of staff or more in the future. That might be five or 10 years down the line but we have to be clear about what our ambitions are.
“We need to work quite quickly and I am very conscious of the timescale we are working towards. Within that 18 months, I want to see things on site that are providing real jobs and opportunities for people.
“What we cannot do and what we will not roll over and accept easily is a position where that site has nobody working on it and then we start to build up a new workforce or a new operation, whatever that might look like.”
Mr Alexander said the group was looking to “bring things on site sooner rather than later and develop them into something meaningful” so current employees can be transitioned into other skilled jobs.
He added: “We are now focusing on specific strands to really hone in on what we want the site to look like. That’s at the same time we have generated significant private sector interest and other interested parties wanting to come along.”
Dundee was dealt a further jobs blow this week when union bosses at Usdaw revealed 88 positions could be lost at Tesco’s customer contact centre in Baird Avenue.
Economy secretary Derek Mackay, who flew out to France for talks with Michelin bosses following the announcement of the Baldovie plant’s closure, said the Scottish Government will do “everything we can”.
Mr Mackay said the site could become “a key location for low carbon energy and low carbon transport development in Scotland”.
He added: “The memorandum of understanding with Michelin, signed just before Christmas, confirms our shared aim to secure a long-term future for the site and to generate significant employment there.
“This will encompass the transformation of the site, and supporting and developing the skills and the capacity of their dedicated workforce.”