Hundreds of jobs could be saved at Young’s Seafood Factory in Fraserburgh, it was announced at a discussion event earlier today.
Environment Secretary Richard Lochhead and Business Minister Fergus Ewing attended the discussion event, along with representatives from the company and the trade unions, at Buchan Braes Hotel in Boddam earlier this afternoon.
It is understood that the preferred option for the factory is now to save around 250 jobs at Young’s - but this would still leave more than half of the current workforce at risk.
As well as company, trade union and Scottish Government officials, the meeting was also attended by local representatives Dr Eilidh Whiteford MP and Stewart Stevenson MSP.
Commenting, Environment Secretary Richard Lochhead said: “It has been a very helpful meeting.
“There is still huge anxiety for the hundreds of people whose jobs are at risk at the Young’s Factory in Fraserburgh and it’s clearly been very difficult times for these families.
“However, before this meeting one of the options was closure of the factory.
“Now, thankfully, one of the preferred options now is actually to downsize as opposed to close so that could retain several hundred jobs, so that’s a small step forward.
“It still means, of course, that hundreds of people would still be out of work and therefore the work has to continue from the agencies, the Scottish Government agencies, the Scottish Government and the Trade Unions and employee representatives to safeguard as many of the other jobs as possible.”
Business Minister Fergus Ewing commented: “The Scottish Government has made every effort to safeguard jobs at Young’s two sites in Fraserburgh and Grantown on Spey.
“I am pleased that Young’s is now exploring a revised option which would see their Fraserburgh factory remain open, albeit downsized to around 250 permanent staff - around half the current number - with no redundancies before 2016. An alternative buyer would be sought for the Grantown on Spey facility.
“This is a significant and welcome move. Young’s have engaged closely with the Scottish Government and public sector partners. They have demonstrated a willingness to listen and recognise the value of retaining many of their dedicated workers in Scotland.
“Of course many people will still face redundancy and we will continue to provide every possible support to those workers who need our help.
“This builds on the practical work already underway that the Joint Stakeholder Group was updated on. Scottish Enterprise is working with Young’s to identify possible resource and energy efficiency savings to reduce operating costs and explore further marketing opportunities. Skills Development Scotland is putting in place the best possible training and support for Young’s workers. That work will continue as we work to secure as many jobs as possible.”
Peter Ward, CEO of Young’s Seafood, said: “The company is committed to constructive engagement with all stakeholders in a transparent way to explore all and every option to retain as many jobs as is feasible. I would like to thank all of the stakeholders present for their commitment and also recognise the on-going commitment of the workforce in these difficult circumstances.
Speaking after the meeting, Stewart Stevenson said: “The news that Young’s are now focussed finding a way to retain the plant is very welcome. The position remains serious but there are some positives from today.
“I shall continue to work with employees, company, the Councils and the Scottish Government to achieve the best available outcome.”
Dr Eilidh Whiteford added: “It is clear that the Scottish Government is taking this situation very seriously. I heard that the First Minister Nicola Sturgeon had a telephone conference yesterday with the union and management at Young’s.
“And the attendance of two ministers today aided a collaborative discussion which has provided a way forward.
“I will continue to support the workers at this difficult time.”