Unite Scotland and GMB Scotland, which jointly represent the vast majority of the 472 McVitie’s workers based at Tollcross in Glasgow, have reacted furiously to the company formally issuing redundancy notices this week (June 17).
The McVitie’s biscuit factory, which manufactures a range of notable products including Hobnobs and Rich Tea Biscuits, has through its parent owners Pladis also refused to engage with the newly established Action Group set up to prevent the factory’s closure. The group is chaired by the Cabinet Secretary for Finance and Economy, Kate Forbes MSP, and involves the trade unions, Glasgow City Council, Scottish Enterprise, Clyde Gateway and Skills Development Scotland.
Following two meetings of the Action Group, Kate Forbes, wrote to McVitie’s requesting direct engagement with the parent company, Pladis, ahead of the next scheduled meeting on June 23. The meeting is set to discuss a series of proposals which could maintain a presence of McVitie’s in the local area. However, Unite Scotland and GMB Scotland can confirm that the company has formally issued redundancy notices to its workforce and refused to engage with the Action Group.
In 2014, the Turkish owned Pladis acquired the McVitie’s business after its takeover of United Biscuits, which made it the third largest biscuit manufacturer in the world. In that same year, United Biscuits also cut its then 680-strong workforce at Tollcross by almost a quarter. The Tollcross factory, which first opened in 1925 as part of the Macfarlane and Lang’s Victoria Biscuit Works, is a major employer in an area with higher levels of social deprivation and unemployment. The McVitie’s presence in Scotland goes back to the original Scottish biscuit maker, McVitie & Price Ltd, which was established in 1830 in Edinburgh.
Commenting, Unite industrial officer Pat McIlvogue said, “It’s an absolute disgrace and slap in the face to the workforce that not only has McVitie’s formally issued redundancy notices but they are also refusing to engage with the Action Group established by the Scottish Government.
“Everyone except the company is working together in order to bring forward options, which could save hundreds of jobs in the local area,” he added. “Unite is again calling on Pladis to directly engage with the trade unions, the workforce and the Scottish Government to look at credible alternatives to closure. Pladis has a duty of care to hundreds of workers to jointly discuss with us what could be done to save jobs instead of this belligerent and arrogant approach which they have adopted.”
By Andrew Brady