Last month (14 September), the government’s offer to buy the plant and lease it back to Vion in order to maintain production was rejected, as Vion said it would not solve the plant's core problems and the scale of its losses.
However, a Scottish Government spokeswoman told MeatInfo: “Earlier this week, Finance Secretary John Swinney and West Lothian Council Leader John McGinty travelled to Eindhoven to meet with the Vion board and set out how the support we have offered can secure a viable future for the business and safeguard jobs at the Broxburn plant.
“In the next few days we will need greater clarity about the steps that Vion are taking to advance the issues around the future of the plant. The government will be actively involved in those discussions with Vion and the taskforce will be meeting to take those issues forward at a local level.”
Although the 90-day consultation process with the 1,700 employees at the plant was due to come to an end yesterday, Vion has not yet made any announcement on the plant's future and declined to comment on this latest development until further information was available.
However, two weeks ago, a spokesman said that while it greatly appreciated both the Scottish Government’s support and its “serious offer of support”, accepting what is essentially public money would be “wrong” as it would not be enough to solve the core problems. He added: “Given the scale of the losses at Hall’s of £79,000 per day, and the complexity and inefficient layout of the factory, we regret that we are unable to accept this support.”
Following Vion’s announcement in July that it could be forced to close the West Lothian processing plant, the Scottish Government led a taskforce to explore options to secure a sustainable future for the plant. Other members of the taskforce included Vion, Quality Meat Scotland (QMS), West Lothian Council, Scottish Enterprise, Scottish Development International (SDI), trades unions and local elected representatives.