A UNION leader has described the “horrendous” experience of Peri-dent announcing the closure of its Tweedbank factory, as the last of its production staff left on Friday, writes Kenny Paterson.
The dental floss firm decided to switch production to Malaysia in June last year, with the loss of about 115 jobs.
Peri-dent will retain the factory as a product development facility, having operated in Tweedbank for more than 20 years, but only about 20 workers will remain.
Unite regional organiser Tony Trench represented many of the workers during negotiations with Peri-dent, ensuring they received enhanced redundancy payments.
He said this week: “It was a horrendous situation for people who worked there, many of whom were sons and fathers working in the same plant.
“But we just could not compete with wages of around £1.15 per hour which are paid in Malaysia.
“However, I believe the quality of the workforce here is second to none and you are now seeing firms such as Next and Debenhams returning to Britain.”
As for the employment chances of those who have left the company, Mr Trench gloomily added: “I know of a few who have moved on to other jobs, but they are few and far between.”
Midlothian South, Tweeddale and Lauderdale MSP Christine Grahame has written to Scottish Government finance secretary John Swinney as well as Scottish Borders Council leader David Parker to seek assurances that employees who left this month will be supported.
Ms Grahame said: “While this move came as no surprise given the history of large multi-national firms having no firm footing in the community, I do hope the staff who have been made redundant have been given all the help they needed to find new jobs or retrain for other employment.
“I believe 15 to 20 people remain at the site, which is to be converted into a warehouse with a new product development facility but that still leaves a large percentage of Peri-dent workers without a job.”
Ms Grahame added: “Some of the staff may be facing financial difficulties as a result of losing their job so I hope all of the appropriate agencies have made people aware of their rights and ensure they have access to the full range of support opportunities that are available to them.”