Business Minister Paul Wheelhouse has told Young’s Seafood that it has a “moral obligation” to support the community that has served the business loyally over the past 10 years.
In a letter to the company this week, Mr Wheelhouse reiterated the severe implications for the community of Annan and while the Scottish Government will use all its power to support workforce requirements at this time, has urged that Young’s steps up to take tangible action to lessen the “bitter blow” through efforts such as financial contributions to legacy projects.
The company announced last week, after a 45-day consultation period with staff, that it would close the Pinneys processing plant in the town and move the operation to Grimsby, saying there was no “viable alternative” to shutting the factory.
Mr Wheelhouse said: “Our focus is now, therefore, on identifying and supporting any potential new investor to the site. As you know, it appears at least one credible investor has come forward and we are now in dialogue with them on the package of support that could be available from the public sector to help secure their investment in operations from the site.
“However, I understand the determining factor will ultimately be the commercial terms of the deal and I would hope that Young’s Seafood approach any discussions and negotiations in a fair and reasonable manner with the best interests of the workforce and wider community in mind. This would be in line with, and keeping to the spirit of, the commitment of the company to me that you want to ‘do right by the people of Annan’.
“Given the complexity of any discussions around the terms of a sale with potential investors, I expect it will take some time before any final agreement could be reached. As such, I would ask for you to re-assess your current plans to transfer the natural salmon production to your Grimsby site in July and, instead, in parallel, put on hold the next phase of redundancies planned for then.”
Unite Scotland industrial officer Andy MacFarlane, meanwhile, said the union was “extremely disappointed” by the decision. Mr MacFarlane said that although the closure confirmation had not been a surprise it was still a blow to staff.
He added: “The workforce is devastated. Whole families and communities will be affected by this decision.”