Workers and the local community are up for the battle to save Pinneys was the clear message from South Scotland MSP Colin Smyth, Annandale South Councillor Sean Marshall and Annandale East and Eskdale Councillor Archie Dryburgh following a series of drop in meetings and advice surgeries held by the local politicians across Annandale and Eskdale last week.
As well as the advice surgeries, the local politicians also held talks with trade union representatives on Friday and will be meeting with the Chief Executive of Young’s Seafood, Bill Showalter, when he visits the Pinneys factory on Thursday (19 April)
The comments come as the formal 45-day consultation by Young’s Seafood into plans to close Pinneys gets underway today (16 April).
South Scotland MSP Colin Smyth said, “It is clear from our meetings with unions, staff and local residents that workers and the community are up for the battle to save Pinneys as the formal consultation gets underway. People understand that convincing Young’s to change their decision will be tough but that won’t stop the case being made. When Young’s bought the site they knew it was the biggest private employer locally so we have to challenge the company to show some corporate responsibility instead of just walking away from a loyal workforce and leaving a trail of economic devastation behind them”.
“There is maybe a bit more optimism when it comes to possibly finding a buyer for the site if that is the only option. However, from speaking to people in the food and drink industry that is likely to require significant support from Government. It is vital that the Scottish and UK Governments get fully behind the workforce and if need be put their money where their mouth is. As well as trying to change Young’s decision during the consultation we need to send out a message to the wider industry that that there could be an excellent high quality food processing factory, literally a few miles from the motorway with a ready workforce and that offers an excellent business opportunity”
Annandale South Councillor Sean Marshall said, “As the consultation is a legal requirement for the Young’s, we know some people fear the company will simply use it as a tick box exercise. The company are set to lose contracts with Marks and Spencers that would see two thirds of existing work at Pinney’s disappear so that limits options. However, based on our discussions with staff and the unions, they clearly have ideas they plan to share with the company on a way forward which involves retaining some existing production and pursuing other markets, so when we meet with Young’s Chief Executive we will do all we can to convince him to listen to the workforce. We will also put forward some practical suggestions around the process including keeping open the option to extend the consultation beyond 45 days if need be to fully pursue all options and ensuring that staff have the right support in place to play a full role in the process, for example meeting the language needs of the 25% of the workforce who are from eastern europe.”
Annandale East and Eskdale Councillor Archie Dryburgh said, “The drop in meetings we held showed this is an issue that impacts on people across the whole of Annandale and Eskdale and beyond. There will hardly be a village or town in the area that won’t be affected if Pinneys closes. The livelihoods of hundreds of people across our communities for generations to come really is at stake here unless we can convince Young’s to change their decision during the consultation if a buyer is found for the site.”