The loss of 65 jobs at the Alpha Solway factory in Lochside, Dumfries, will be a “huge blow” to the town, according to South Scotland MSP Colin Smyth.
The company, which is part of the Globus Group and has factories in Annan and Dumfries, has announced that it will close its Dumfries site, which was built in a matter of weeks at the start of the Covid pandemic.
Last month, Alpha Solway announced that it had begun a review of operations and staffing at the site due to the significant financial impact caused by the lack of ongoing NHS orders, which had stopped for several months.
Alpha Solway said it has learned that the significant stockpiles of PPE built up during the pandemic means it is unlikely to receive any new NHS Scotland orders for the foreseeable future
A formal consultation process and discussions with staff are continuing and it is anticipated around 65 people will be made redundant.
Colin Smyth said: “The loss of these jobs will be a huge blow to Dumfries and my thoughts are with everyone who works at the factory, even more so as the cost of living crisis is starting to hit every family.
“Just last year, Scottish Government funding of £4.8 million was awarded to Alpha Solway to build a manufacturing plant in Dumfries for personal protective equipment, with a promise from ministers of 300 jobs.
“Something has seriously gone wrong with the company’s business plan and sadly it is workers who are paying the price. The company’s management clearly have questions to answer over the decisions they made but so do Scottish Government Ministers because their promises have proven worthless.
“The firm argue that NHS orders have been stopped and while we all understand that the overall amount of PPE that we need has reduced, surely one of the lessons from the pandemic is that we should never again rely on importing PPE; it should be manufactured in Scotland. It unclear to me where the public sector is buying their supplies of PPE and that’s an issue I’m trying it get to the bottom of.
“In my view every single item of PPE we use should be manufactured here in the UK where we can better secure supplies if, and when, it is needed. It is also madness from an environmental point of view to rely on importing PPE from the other side of world when we could be making that product here in Scotland.”