The taskforce at the Hall’s of Broxburn meat processing plant will continue to strive to find a way to save the site from closure - and safeguard local jobs - after the original 90-day consultation period came to an end on Wednesday.
Around 80 per cent of the 1700 employees are from West Lothian and concerns are growing over the impact closure will have on the area.
But, despite all the attempts to float a rescue package, it has been reported elsewhere that the workforce could be out of a job as early as today (Friday).
Following the July announcement of Vion’s plans to close its Broxburn facility, the Scottish Government has led a taskforce comprising West Lothian Council, Scottish Enterprise, Scottish Development International, trade unions, the company and local elected representatives to explore options to secure a sustainable future for the plant.
The plant’s Dutch owners last month rejected a joint bid from the Scottish Government and West Lothian Council to buy the plant and lease it back to the current owners.
Graeme Morrice MP, who is part of the taskforce, said: “I’m very disappointed Vion could be moving towards closing the plant. This will have a devastating impact in terms of job losses which will affect local families.”
He added: “All is not lost and hopefully a buyer can be found for the plant. I will continue to work with the taskforce leaving no stone unturned to find a way of safeguarding local jobs.”
Vion has said it had to reject the joint bid from the Scottish Government and West Lothian Council as, despite it being a substantial offer, “it would be wrong to accept the offer of public money knowing it is significantly below the amount required to resolve the core legacy problems at the site and would only serve to delay any potential decision regarding closure.”
The decision from Vion to reject the offer led to fresh concerns over the commitment the owners had to the Broxburn site and its overall future.
Leader of West Lothian Council, John McGinty, met with the Vion executive board before the consultation period ended and later said: “This meeting gave us a further opportunity to set out how the support we have offered can secure a viable future for the business and safeguard jobs at the Broxburn plant.
“Vion’s senior management used the discussion to explain the wider conditions facing the company and to confirm their commitment to continue to explore options following completion of the consultation exercise.” He added: “The Hall’s of Broxburn taskforce will meet again later this month when we expect to hear the outcome of that consultation and the company’s reaction to the considerable support we are making available.”
Trade union USDAW has called for more time to improve the chances of the Hall’s plant having a viable future. Representatives meet with the owners today (Friday).
USDAW’s Stewart Forrest, deputy divisional officer for the region, said: “We understand there has been some interest in the site from outside parties.
‘‘We have asked for an extension to the consultation period so we will just have to see what this meeting and the meeting of the taskforce next Wednesday (October 10) will bring.”