All Broxburn jobs unlikely to be saved, Minister admits

The Scottish Finance Minister has said it is unlikely that all 1,700 jobs currently under threat at Vion’s troubled Hall’s of Broxburn site will be saved. 

The admission came after the taskforce, set up to find alternative solutions to the closure of the plant, met yesterday afternoon.

John Swinney, who chairs the taskforce, reportedly told BBC Scotland: “I think it is difficult to conceive that all 1,700 jobs could be secured, given the circumstances we face.”

However, he said that some changes had been identified that could improve efficiencies at the plant.

A Scottish Government spokesman told MeatInfo: “The taskforce heard today from the Scottish Manufacturing Advisory Service (SMAS) and other advisers commissioned by the taskforce to explore opportunities for taking forward the business.
“The challenge now is to take forward work, with the company, to see if it can deliver a sustainable, viable business for the community and economy of Broxburn.”

She said that the taskforce was working together on the options and was still hoping to safeguard jobs at the plant. She said that some reports had come back and some potential savings had been found.

Last month the minister described progress as “encouraging”, but warned that the process was still at a very early stage. He said that the taskforce is committed to delivering a positive result for the workforce and the community.

The Scotsman newspaper reported last week (14 August) that two parties have indicated interest in buying the plant, but this has not been confirmed by Vion or the Scottish government.

Meat processor Vion announced the potential closure of the factory on 5 July, blaming unsustainable daily losses of £79,000 per day for the decision. The site was a major processing facility for Scottish pork, handling around 8,000 pigs each week.

QMS chairman Jim McLaren, who is working as part of the Scottish government taskforce, said that although the Scottish pig industry had proved to be resilient, it is currently experiencing a period of great uncertainty. He said: “Coupled with the Hall’s uncertainty, a major issue of great concern to our pig producers is the rocketing price of feed, especially protein, due mainly to the drought in the USA.  
“Although pig prices are not sitting at historic lows, they have failed to keep up with those of beef and lamb.
However, he said that there is currently record awareness and appreciation of the quality of pork produced in Scotland and consumers recognition of the commitment of the industry to high standards of welfare.

Related news:

>Broxburn update: Two potential buyers

>Broxburn taskforce meeting ‘encouraging’ says minister

>Politicians and councillors stand against Vion closure


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