5 February 2019

Jenny Marra raises the issue of redundancies at McGill in the Scottish Parliament

McGill - Topical Question

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1 February 2019

Jenny Marra MSP comments on the news of McGill going into administration

"McGill's collapse into administration is more devastating jobs news for Dundee. There is deep worry too for the many local firms who work with McGill.

"There is no doubt now that the city is in economic crisis. With 850 jobs going at Michelin, engineering firms like Flint and Pressurefab shut, HMRC's 300 staff losing their positions by 2022, NHS Tayside planning to shed 1,300 posts, 400 jobs on the table at the council and now 200-250 McGill jobs, the toll is running into the thousands.

"Decent paid jobs are becoming the exception in Dundee with so many of the positions available being low paid, part time and insecure.

"For now, I expect swift economic action and thinking from both Scottish and UK governments for the workers of McGill, associated companies, the construction sector in Dundee and our wider economy.

"Longer term plans are absolutely vital but the priority for now is supporting the workers of McGill in Dundee and beyond."



Comment by Richard Leonard Scottish Labour Leader
30 November 2018
Commenting on reports Michelin still intends to close its Dundee factory, Scottish Labour leader Richard Leonard MSP said:
"The news tyre manufacturing at Michelin in Dundee could still cease is deeply troubling and a major blow for the workforce, their families and the wider community.

"The loss of more than 800 much-needed skilled jobs would be devastating to the city and our economy.

"It is now essential that the SNP government fights hard to deliver new work at the Baldovie plant to protect jobs and skills.

"This must include stepping up its work with trade unions and local authorities in order secure a viable future for the workforce."

Scottish Labour is ready to provide constructive advice and support to ensure we protect these jobs and skills in Dundee."


9 November 2018

Scottish Labour leader Richard Leonard has today outlined a series of steps to help save Dundee's Michelin tyre plant.

Writing in the Scotsman, Mr Leonard makes a series of suggestions, including:

- Reviewing the Scottish Government procurement strategy to ensure Scotland's public sector can help support the factory

- Using Scottish Enterprise underspend to help support the factory

- Urging the Scottish Government to provide a guarantee that Michelin's current crop of 60 apprentices will be able to finish their training

- Around 850 jobs are currently at risk at the factory after Michelin announced its intention to shut down its Dundee operation by 2020.

The text of Richard's column is below:

Dundee is, in many ways, a microcosm of Scotland.

It is a fusion of old and new, urban and rural, rich and poor. It has significant inequality, but also a resilient spirit, good humour and a great sense of itself.

The city has featured fine figures throughout history - E.D. Morel and Mary Brooksbank spring to mind - as well as suffragettes and active trade unionists who have risen to lead the trades union movement.

Most importantly it has, like the rest of the country, suffered the ravages of neoliberalism and laissez-faire economics.

The loss of the jute industry closed Dundee to the world – a reality that is only beginning to change with the revitalisation of the city’s port and the development of the V&A as a global attraction.

While other industries arrived they too soon left as central government politicians paid homage to privatisation and deregulation.

Timex, despite the valiant efforts of strikers and trade unionists, left the city. Just a few years later, NCR would make 600 workers redundant, despite making an £85million profit.

By the turn of the century, only Michelin remained – and now even that is under threat.

The simple reality is the Michelin factory simply cannot be allowed to close. It is too valuable to the city and the people to fail.

Not only does it employ 850 people, but it provides training and development opportunities for Dundee communities.

This will be, understandably, a time of great concern not just for the workforce itself but for the entire city.

As a trade union organiser for twenty years, I understand the experiences the Michelin workforce will currently be facing.

So let me be clear: my thoughts, and those of the wider Labour movement, are with those workers, their families and the whole city of Dundee.

But from this darkness we must draw hope of a new dawn. We must believe, first and foremost, that the Michelin factory can and will have a bright future.

That is why I have already suggested a number of steps that could be taken immediately to help save the factory.

Firstly, the UK Treasury must provide the additional £50million that was promised for the Tay Cities Deal.

Bringing the UK Government’s total contribution back up to £200million would provide a welcome boost to the local economy at a troubling time. It would also be a show of confidence in Dundee and the wider region.

With so many jobs on the line, now is not the time for either the UK or Scottish governments to start playing constitutional games – it is a time for practical action.

Secondly, both the UK and Scottish governments must commit to a review of public procurement to see what can be done to further support the Michelin factory. That should include a review of who supplies tyres for the Scottish Government’s vehicle fleet, as well as the much larger fleets across Scotland’s public services.

This could provide much needed additional orders for the factory in the short term – and perhaps provide a viable platform to support its future.

Thirdly, both of Scotland’s governments must work closely with trade unions, as well as Dundee City Council, to deliver a positive solution.

It is welcome that SNP Finance Secretary Derek Mackay has already indicated his willingness to work collaboratively to find a solution and Labour stands ready to offer its effort in pursuit of this end.

In the longer term, one possible avenue that should be quickly explored is the potential role of Scottish Enterprise.

It is a matter of public record that Scottish Enterprise has awarded Michelin in Dundee in total more than £5million since 2011, but it has spent just £500,000 of a £10million fund to support business so far this year. The Scottish Government must now urgently seek to establish if that money could be used to either secure the long term future of the plant or, if need be, refit it for another purpose.

Another matter it should look at is the fate of the plant’s 60 apprentices. While the focus must be on saving the factory, the Scottish Government should also arrange a contingency so those who will not have completed their course by 2020 could, if need be, finish their apprenticeship elsewhere.

Every possible lever of government – at both a Scottish and UK level – must be pulled in the collective effort to save these 850 jobs and secure the factory’s future.

Yet the spectre of the closure of another major employer should also, in the longer term, prompt deeper questions about whether our economy is really working.

While the situation at Michelin is a source of great concern, it is not the first of its kind.

At the end of last year, BiFab faced closure with the loss of hundreds of skilled jobs in Fife and the Western Isles.

Before that, Fergusons shipyard in Port Glasgow became the latest in a long line of manufacturing employers facing closure. Then, Tata Steel faced closure.

While these plants in Dalziel and Clydebank were rescued, that should not stop us asking why they needed rescued in the first place.

Put another way, saving people from a desert island is laudable in and of itself, but the question needs to be asked how and why the people ended up in that situation.

And this situation is all the more frustrating because the answers are not complicated or mysterious, they are obvious. The invisible hand of the market does not protect jobs or skills. Without planning, there is industrial anarchy.

That is why Scottish Labour has developed a proper industrial strategy, which will not just protect high-wage, high-skill jobs but create more of them too. It outlines the prospect of a Marcora Law to boost employee ownership, as well as a firm commitment to involve trade unions so that we act to make things go right in the economy, rather than just react when things go wrong.

Dundee itself shows this. From jute to Timex to NCR, time and again the same errors have been repeated and the same catastrophic consequences felt.

This time, with Michelin, we cannot repeat the mistakes of the past.

(This article first appeared in the “Scotsman” 09/11/2018)

Comment on reports Dundee's Michelin factory could close

5 November 2019

Scottish Labour leader Richard Leonard MSP said :

"This is devastating news for the Michelin workforce and their families, the city of Dundee and the wider Tayside community. My thoughts are with them.

"The Michelin factory in Dundee has provided not just hundreds of well paid jobs, but much needed skills and training to a city which has suffered greatly as a result of deindustrialisation.

"It is now key that the Scottish Government does everything it possibly can to keep the factory open and protect jobs. This should include working closely with Michelin, trade unions and the Dundee community to provide urgent clarity on the current situation.

"Scottish Labour stands ready to provide constructive support to help Michelin workers and keep the factory open."


6 November 2018

Scottish Labour’s two most senior figures have written a joint letter calling on the UK and Scottish governments to do everything possible to save the jobs of the workers at the Michelin factory in Dundee.

Scottish Labour leader Richard Leonard and Shadow Secretary of State for Scotland Lesley Laird have urged both the Tory and SNP administrations to work together to save the factory, which employs more than 800 people.

In their letter, the Scottish Labour leadership suggest immediate action that could be taken to help save the factory, including:

• Demanding the UK Treasury immediately provide the extra £50million originally promised to the region as part of the Tay Cities Deal.

• Demanding both the UK and Scottish governments review their use of public procurement to assess whether additional orders could be placed with the factory.

• Urging both governments to work closely with trade unions to help save the factory and protect jobs.

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