South Scotland MSP Colin Smyth has today (17 April) spoke up in the Scottish Parliament on behalf of workers at Pinneys in Annan and warned MSPs that the closure of the factory would be an “economic tsunami” for the area.
The MSP was questioning the Scottish Government’s Business Minister Paul Wheelhouse on what support the Scottish Government would provide the local economy, where Colin Smyth highlighted that the real level of job losses if Pinneys closed would be nearer 700, taking account seasonal and agency workers. The local MSP called on the Government to tackle the fundamental weaknesses in the local economy which leaves Annan so vulnerable if Pinneys closed.
Speaking in the Scottish Parliament Colin Smyth MSP said,
“When you add agency and seasonal workers to the permanent workforce, the potential job losses if Pinneys closes is likely to nearer 700 which would be an economic tsunami in a community the size of Annan with a working population of just five and half thousand.
Whilst the first priority is to use the 45-day consultation to try to convince Young’s to change their closure decision and if this is unsuccessful to find a buyer for the Pinneys site, does the Cabinet Secretary share the concerns of the local community that one of the reasons any job losses would be so disastrous is the fact the fundamental weaknesses in the local economy in terms of poor infrastructure, the lowest pay in Scotland, and few large employers have not been tackled and those weaknesses are now coming back to haunt us?”
In response Business Minister Paul Wheelhouse said:
“Absolutely, I do identify with that latter point that Colin Smyth has mentioned.
We are clearly taking forward proposal for a South of Scotland Enterprise Agency and that is medium to long term mission to try and transform the economy of the South.
In the immediate period we have a more sever challenge in the context of Annan if all 450 permanent jobs were to be lost and indeed the seasonal jobs in the October to December period which is the peak period of production, would have very significant consequences for the area were that to happen.
One of the virtues of having the action group is to not just look at the specifics around the particular impact of the plant closure but also look to see if there is anything outwith this process where we can try and do something to strengthen the economy in Annan…..
We know that the vast majority of staff are concentrated within a 10 mile radius therefore we know job losses on that scale will have huge impact on Annan.”
After the exchange in Parliament, Mr Smyth said:
“I will be meeting the Chief Executive of Young’s Seafood on Thursday (19 April) because the immediate priority is to try to convince Young’s to reverse their plans to close the factory or to find a buyer but we also need to accept that the reason the closure would be so devastating is the fact there are few alternative employment opportunities to absorb so many job losses. Whilst it was reassuring that the Minister acknowledges the long term economic challenges facing Annan, what we need to see is solutions. That means more investment in tackling our poor infrastructure, building the skills level in the area and ensuring that adequate support is in place to grow and attract businesses or we will always be vulnerable to a closure of the scale of Pinneys. "
To watch the full questioning please see: