Hall’s workers may occupy factory in bid to save jobs

The Hall's closure will result in the loss of 1700 jobs
The Hall's closure will result in the loss of 1700 jobs
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WORKERS from the closure-hit meat processing plant Hall’s of Broxburn are to 
discuss a possible occupation of the factory in a bid to resist job losses.

Dutch food group Vion is shutting down the plant in West Lothian with the loss of 1700 jobs.

The Evening News understands that workers are now set to meet representatives of Right to Work, a group which promotes “resistance” in the face of job losses.

It is expected that the meeting on Tuesday will include discussions on possible action that the workers can take, including occupation of the plant and a boycott of other products and services produced by the parent company.

Right to Work is a national campaign that has regularly argued for strikes, direct action and occupations as a means of fighting job losses.

Willie Black, a spokesman for Right to Work in the East of Scotland, said it was time for workers to get angry about the closure, and called on the community to get behind a campaign to keep the plant open.

“We had given the taskforce some leeway to do their work, but it is now clear that the workers have become demoralised and have been left with a feeling there’s nothing they can do,” he said.

“We want to tell them there is plenty they can do, and we will certainly be arguing for an occupation of the factory to force Vion either to ensure these workers are given a proper redundancy package or to keep the plant open.

“The idea that the government will help find these people jobs is ridiculous – there are simply not 1700 jobs in the area.”

The news came as Vion faced demands to “put their hands in their pocket” and help the local economy. The firm turned down two last-minute bids to save the factory, stating neither of the offers “constitutes a viable and sustainable alternative” to closure.

The Scottish Government has produced a recovery plan to help the local economy and those who face losing their jobs. But two SNP ministers called on Vion to contribute to this financially. Fiona Hyslop, the MSP for Linlithgow, told the SNP annual conference in Perth: “The Scottish Government has stood by the workforce from day one. I know we will continue to do so as we now build for recovery.

“But responsibility must be faced where responsibility lies. Vion must face up to their responsibilities, put their hands in their pocket to aid the community they are leaving behind.

“I call on Vion here and now to support the Hall’s of Broxburn workforce and help fund that recovery plan.”

Ms Hyslop said the closure of the Hall’s plant would be a “body blow” for the West Lothian community. And she hit out at Vion bosses, saying company management had taken “profitability and turned it into loss” at the site and claiming they had “promised a centre of excellence and produced redundancy”.

Youth Employment Minister Angela Constance echoed the call for Vion to contribute to the recovery plan for the area.

The Livingston MSP blasted Vion’s “stubborn refusal” to accept offers for the site and said some believed bosses had been “hell-bent on closure all along”.

Ms Constance said: “As a government, we will pull out all the stops, but now it’s time for Vion to pull out all the stops and put their hand in their pocket and help build recovery for the West Lothian economy.”