The Scottish Government’s economy minister Derek Mackay has been asked by First Minister Nicola Sturgeon to talk to American giant Ecolab to see if he can change its plans to close the RP Adam factory in Selkirk.
The company said this week that it had made the decision to close the long-standing Borders cleaning products company after a review of its manufacturing operation in the UK.
During First Minister’s Questions at Holyrood yesterday, Borders MSP Rachael Hamilton asked what support the government could give to the 48 staff affected by the closure.
She said: “Yesterday I was informed that 48 jobs are to go at Ecolab in Selkirk.
“This will be a big blow to the town and I would like to ask the First Minister what support the Scottish Government will give to workers facing redundancy and their families at this challenging and worrying time.”
Mrs Sturgeon replied: “I share the concerns about the news of these redundancies at Ecolab.
“I will ask the economy minister to make contact with the company to look at whether there is support the Scottish Government or Scottish Enterprise can offer to avert these redundancies.
“If that is not possible then our PACE initiative, as it always does in these circumstances, will offer assistance directly to those workers and I’m sure once he has had an opportunity to speak to the company the economy minister will be happy to talk to the member further in order to update her on what action is possible for the Scottish Government to take.”
The day before, Mrs Hamilton offered to help the affected workers in any way she could.
She said: “This is worrying news emerging from RP Adam in Selkirk.
“The loss of 48 jobs is a large hit for Selkirk and the surrounding area, and I will be contacting RP Adam in the coming days to discuss what can be done to ensure that all is being done to protect its hard-working staff.
“Should any employees of RP Adam require assistance, my office is open and I will endeavour to do our best to offer support where possible.”
Meanwhile, Selkirkshire councillor Gordon Edgar drew similarities between this latest closure and that of the Viasystems factory which also closed in the town in 1999 after being taken over by an American company.
He said: “It’s just like Viasystems in 1999 all over again.
“It’s very disappointing. It’s a long-established business and the Americans take it over, take what asset they need out of the place and then close it down. It’s a shame.
“I’m going to get in touch with the economic development team at the council, and hopefully they will put something in place to help the workers.
“It’s not just the staff there – the local economy will take a big hit as well.”
On Wednesday, Aaron Gardiner, a vice-president with the multinational conglomerate, said the decision to close the company in no way reflected the quality of the workforce or its quality of work.
He said: “The purpose of consultation is to discuss the proposed closure and the implications this decision has.
“This decision was made after extensive review of our manufacturing in the UK to identify ways to further optimise the efficiency of our operations.
“We determined that our other UK manufacturing plants are better suited to meet the long-term needs of our business in this market.
“This decision applies only to the Selkirk manufacturing site and offices.
“Secondly, it is in no way due to the quality of the team or the quality of the work at this location.
“The company’s intention is to maintain the Arpal brand, to retain existing customers and to continue a market approach that is distinct to the RP Adam company.
“Our immediate focus is to support the employees affected by this decision.
“We will explore possible ways to reduce or mitigate the effects of any redundancies, such as redeployment, filling open positions at other Ecolab sites or assistance with job placement.”