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Scottish Government Backs Hall's Workers

9 July 2012, at 9:40am

UK - The Scotish government is backing the workforce at the VION Foods procesing plant, Hall’s of Broxburn which the company has said is threatened with closure.

Scotland's First Minister Alex Salmond visited the plant following the announcement by owner Vion Foods UK that it is consulting on the future of the facility.

During a two hour visit to the site, the First Minister met union representatives from USDAW, Stewart Forrest, Tracey Gilbert, Ester Stewart and Bridget Norwood this afternoon, then management at the West Lothian plant.

This follows an initial meeting in Broxburn last night of a taskforce that was immediately brought together by the Cabinet Secretary for Finance, Employment & Sustainable Growth John Swinney, following Vion’s announcement yesterday. The Cabinet Secretary for Rural Affairs Richard Lochhead also attended yesterday’s taskforce meeting, after meeting industry representatives earlier in the day.

Speaking after the meeting with shop stewards and local management, the First Minister said: "This is obviously a very difficult time for all those whose livelihoods are tied up in this plant, from packers to pig producers.

"This plant clearly has a troubled history, having been in jeopardy twice previously in the last five years. It’s clear that the pressures on profits margins in the Scottish/UK market, which have exacerbated an already difficult situation in the pig meat supply chain, are being mirrored elsewhere in Europe, with companies such as Vion reviewing and consolidating their operations beyond Scotland.

"This has been a decision taken at European level by the company, but I want to be clear, I will travel anywhere and meet anyone to try to protect Scottish jobs. Vion is currently looking at all options for the workforce at Broxburn and the Scottish Government has quickly set up a taskforce, led by the Cabinet Secretary for Finance, Employment & Sustainable Growth and supported by the Cabinet Secretary for Rural Affairs & the Environment.

"This includes local council and MSP representation, government agencies, unions, meat industry representation and the company itself. In my discussions today, I made clear that, together, we will explore all options for the future of the company and its business; provide support for the workforce; and mitigate any possible wider impacts.

"One early commitment from the company today has been that it will ensure that all 14 people currently on modern apprenticeships or SVQ training at the will complete their training with Vion, ideally at the Broxburn site. This is one small step but it is a positive step and there is much work to do. All of those serving on the taskforce will be working tirelessly over the coming weeks and months to help deliver a positive economic future for the workforce and community of Broxburn."

The taskforce on Hall's of Broxburn has been established by Mr Swinney supported by Mr Lochhead.

Its membership comprises company representatives, Usdaw, West Lothian Council, the MP and MSP for the area, Scottish Enterprise, Scottish Development International, Skills Development Scotland, Job Centre Plus and Quality Meat Scotland. Following last night’s initial meeting, it intends to meet again on 30 July.

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