South Scotland Labour MSP and Scottish Labour’s Shadow Cabinet Secretary for the Rural Economy Colin Smyth will meet with Fergus Ewing, Cabinet Secretary for the Rural Economy today (19 July) where the local MSP will urge the Scottish Government to re-think their response to the closure of Pinneys of Annan.
As a result of the recent Cabinet Re-shuffle Mr Ewing took over responsibility for the Government’s response to the closure from former Business Minister Paul Wheelhouse. In response to the closure announced in April by Youngs , an Action Group was established with membership including the Scottish Government, Scottish Enterprise, Skills Development Scotland, Dumfries and Galloway Council and industry representative Seafood Scotland focused on trying to maintain production at the site.
With no buyer yet found for the factory, Colin Smyth believes it’s time for a re-think in both the UK and Scottish Government’s response with more focus on creating new jobs in the area for those about to be made redundant by Pinneys owners Young’s Seafood
When calling for the meeting last week, Mr Smyth also urged Fergus Ewing to confirm the release of £250,000 from the South of Scotland Economic Partnership (SOSEP). The funding request came from Dumfries and Galloway Council who want to see a dedicated team in place in Annan to look at ways in which new jobs can be created, either by expanding existing businesses or bringing new ones to the area.
Colin Smyth said, “People are resigned to the fact that Pinneys will close its doors by September with the factory being mothballed. It is increasingly unlikely that there will be a knight in shining armour who will buy the factory and retain the jobs. If we are being honest, most people felt that would be the case as soon as Young’s made their closure announcement in April”.
“We need an urgent rethink in both the Scottish and UK Government’s response that goes way beyond the current token Action Group. I don’t think either Government has yet grasped the scale of what’s happening at Pinneys and the devastation these job losses will have on an already fragile local economy. The long delayed allocation of £250,000 from the South of Scotland Economic Partnership is a start. But my clear message to Fergus Ewing is this is nowhere near enough to put in place the massive measures that are needed to support existing businesses and bring in new ones to deliver the jobs at the level the area needs and more investment is required. Initiatives such as the Jobs Fair also need to happen on a regular basis and not just be a one off.”
The meeting between the local MSP and the Cabinet Secretary today will also include Union officials from UNITE who will join Colin Smyth in urging the Scottish Government to lobby the UK Government to reverse their decision to halve the 90-day consultation period to just 45 days before large-scale redundancies can take place. The cut was implemented by the UK Government in April 2013 and affects all redundancies of 100 or more workers/ UNITE the Union Shop Stewards recently highlighted in talks with Colin Smyth that the 45-day consultation which kicked off in April was insufficient to properly consult the workforce and explore alternatives for Pinneys.