The Bishop of Dunkeld has offered his support and prayers to all those affected by the proposed Michelin plant closure in Dundee.
The firm announced that the tyre factory will close by mid-2020 after it deemed it “unsuitable” in the current climate. However, Michelin bosses have now given Scottish Economy Secretary Derek Mackay until the end of the month to come up with a plan that could save the closure-threatened Dundee site.
In response to the closure proposals, Bishop Stephen Robson said the Church would be ready to support any of those affected.
“I am dismayed to hear that the Michelin plant which has been such a significant employer in Dundee for over 26 years and which employs almost 1,000 people is to close. My heart goes out to all those who will be directly affected and to their families,” Bishop Robson told The Catholic Universe.
“Our parish priests will be ready to support and help those affected in any way they can and I join them in offering all those affected by such a devastating loss of jobs the promise of my prayers for their future,” he added.
However, Mr Mackay said the tyre maker had agreed to give him a hearing “in about three weeks’ time” so he can put an alternative proposal to them.
He has tasked Steve Dunlop, chief executive of Scottish Enterprise, to work on a “repurposing proposition” looking at different options for the plant, which employs 845 workers.
Mr Mackay told BBC Radio Scotland’s Good Morning Scotland programme: “I will be pulling together the best expertise, to put the best possible proposition to Michelin.
“They, whilst not wanting to revisit the decision, are at least giving me a hearing in about three weeks’ time so I can put that offer to them.”
Mr Mackay recently travelled to Paris to hold talks with senior figures from the French-based firm, after learning of the proposal to shut the Dundee site in the next two years.
Mr Mackay said he still had hope for its future, adding: “When I expressed to them the things we are doing in Scotland, our manufacturing, our innovation, raising the skills and aspirations of our country, I think they took an interest in that.
“So I want to put the best proposition possible to them.”
He called on the UK Government to commit additional funding to the Tay Cities deal, which brings together the governments in Edinburgh and London, along with the local council and others, to try to boost the local economy.
The UK Government has announced £150 million of cash for this, with Holyrood ministers pledging £200 million.
Mr Mackay said he was “open” to providing additional resources, but said Westminster must do the same.
Picture: A general view of Michelin’s Dundee tyre factory after the company announced plans to close the site. (Andrew Milligan/PA).