Glimmer of hope for Hall’s as two bids for plant received

Hall's of Broxburn: 'Glimmer of light'. Picture: Phil Wilkinson
Hall's of Broxburn: 'Glimmer of light'. Picture: Phil Wilkinson
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WORKERS at Hall’s of Broxburn have their “fingers crossed” ahead of an announcement next week on whether the meat processing plant is to be saved.

Dutch owners Vion said it had received two offers to buy the closure-threatened factory in West Lothian.

• Two bids received for Hall’s of Broxburn

• Dutch owner Vion to decide on bids by early next week

It did not reveal details of the bids, but is expected to say early next week whether it is prepared to accept either offer.

Livingston Labour MP Graeme Morrice said: “We have to wait and see what happens. All we can do is keep our fingers crossed and hope the company does the right thing by its workforce.”

Vion announced in July it intended to close the plant with the loss of all 1700 jobs. A 90-day consultation period ended last week and Vion said a phased closure would begin later this month, but it then extended a deadline for potential bids until noon yesterday.

A spokesman for Vion said: “We can confirm that we received two offers for the Hall’s site prior to the deadline.

“In addition, one note of interest in the site was withdrawn. At this stage, due to commercial confidentiality, we are unable to confirm their identity or the details of the bids.

“Our focus over the weekend will be on reviewing the offers which we have received. Our intention is to complete this process as quickly as possible with a view to making a formal announcement at the beginning of next week.”

Vion has said the plant – which makes a wide variety of products including sausages, haggis and black puddings – was losing £79,000 a day.

The company has already turned down an offer from the Scottish Government to buy and lease back the factory.

It is widely expected that even if one of the current bids is accepted, some of the jobs will be lost.

Talks between management and unions on redundancy arrangements have already begun.

The Hall’s factory dates back to 1932 and has been owned by Vion since 2008, when it took over from Grampian Country Foods. It is one of the biggest employers in the area and politicians have warned if it shuts it will be like a pit closure in its devastating effect, not only on the workforce but on the community.

Lawrence Wason, divisional officer for union Usdaw, which has about 800 members at the plant, said the prolonged uncertainty was hard for the workers.

He said: “It’s extremely difficult. Frustration is growing by the day. It’s the not knowing – some people feel ‘Just give us what we are entitled to and go’. I can empathise with that, but at the same time it’s not over till it’s over.

“There is still a wee glimmer flickering away that we have to make sure we explore.”