The Pladis Action Group was formed in May and is chaired by the Cabinet Secretary for Finance and Economy, Kate Forbes MSP, and involves the trade unions GMB Scotland and Unite, Glasgow City Council, Scottish Enterprise, Clyde Gateway and Skills Development Scotland.
According to Forbes, the various stakeholders have “worked together at pace to identify and explore options to secure the future of these crucial manufacturing jobs in Glasgow.”
The Tollcross plant was opened in 1925 as part of the Macfarlane and Lang’s Victoria Biscuit Works, and is a major employer in an area that has higher levels of unemployment and social deprivations. McVitie's roots in Scotland stretch back even further, when the original biscuit maker, McVitie & Price Ltd, was established in 1830 in Edinburgh.
The global snacking company cited ‘excess capacity’ across its sites in the UK and Ireland as the reason behind the closure. Pladis operates seven manufacturing sites in the region, along with a distribution hub and offices that together employ more than 4,600 people. Globally, its Turkish parent company Yildis Holdings operates 25 factories in 11 countries, with a total workforce of over 16,000 people.
“pladis is home to some of Britain's best loved brands which have been part of the fabric of our society for nearly two hundred years,” David Murray, pladis MD of UK&I, said in May.
“In order to protect them for generations to come, we must take steps to address excess capacity in the UK. This overcapacity limits our ability to make the right investments in future capabilities to meet the very big changes in our industry.”
‘Sets out the way forward’
Despite fierce opposition, Pladis has so far failed to be persuaded to change its plans and formally lodged redundancy notices for the plant’s 468-strong workforce on 17 June.
“I would hope and expect the senior management at Pladis to now study the proposals carefully, and to engage with the Action Group on them in a constructive and thorough manner,” said Forbes.
“This proposal is compelling and would secure a future for Pladis in the city,” added Councillor Susan Aitken, leader of Glasgow City Council. “I trust they will give it the consideration it deserves.”
GMB Scotland organiser David Hume added it offers everything Pladis needs to continue manufacturing in Glasgow, to ensure employment and opportunity for the local community and the next generation.
“It also represents months of hard work on behalf of the unions and action group representatives to support the workforce, who are fighting so hard for their futures. It sets out the way forward and everyone should be positive that Pladis will look favourably on it.”
Unite industrial officer Pat McIlvogue said the plans for a commercially viable alternative to the closure would actually “produce efficiency savings and make this one of the most advanced biscuit manufacturing sites in the UK.
“Unite is asking that Pladis the owners of the factory study and positively engage with us on this proposal because we believe that everyone can win from this most importantly the hundreds of jobs at stake in the local community.”