SNP MSPs Willie Coffey (Kilmarnock & Loudoun) and Bob Doris (Glasgow) have commented on the announcement made by Diageo today that they will press ahead with cutting up to 900 jobs at its Johnnie Walker plant in Kilmarnock and Port Dundas distillery in Glasgow.
Kilmarnock SNP MSP Willie Coffey said Diageo’s decision to go ahead with the closure of Johnnie Walker plant, with the loss of 700 jobs in the town, will devastate Kilmarnock.
Mr Coffey condemned the decision which ends a 200 year link between Johnnie Walker and Kilmarnock, the town where it was founded.
He welcomed reassurances from John Swinney that the taskforce will be reconvened to discuss a response to the closure and the economic future for Kilmarnock.
Mr Coffey said:
“This is a devastating blow for an intensely loyal workforce in Kilmarnock.
"Kilmarnock is an integral part of Johnnie Walker Whisky, without its Kilmarnock roots there is no Johnnie Walker.
"When Diageo are making billions of pounds of profits it simply beggars belief that they would shut down plants and sacrifice workers.
“Diageo are ignoring the pleas of tens of thousands of people and customers who do not want Johnnie Walker to walk away from Kilmarnock.
“To reject completely out of hand the proposals developed by Scottish Enterprise, East Ayrshire and all parties casts doubt on Diageo’s willingness to listen in the first place.
“It has been clear throughout the last few months that they had no real intention of listening to any alternative plan.
“Diageo have behaved shamefully throughout this process.
“If they are now to walk away from Killie, Diageo owe it to the town and the workers to contribute to the regeneration of the area and the creation of new jobs.
“I welcome John Swinney’s commitment to Kilmarnock, the Scottish Government has stood by the workers throughout and that commitment has not gone unnoticed.
“No one wants to face a future in Kilmarnock without Johnnie Walker – but we must now work together ensure that future is as bright as possible.”
Glasgow MSP Bob Doris also expressed his disappointment at Diageo’s decision to close the Port Dundas distillery.
The closure could mean the loss of 200 jobs in the city and comes despite a cross party campaign to preserve the jobs and intense efforts by the Scottish Government and Scottish Enterprise to present an alternative plan for Diageo.
Mr Doris said:
“With profits of £2.5 billion last year it will be difficult for workers to understand why Diageo are closing plants and losing jobs.
“Workers at Port Dundas have shown real commitment to Diageo and there will be deep disappointment that Diageo have reached this devastating decision.
“The efforts of the campaign, the trade unions and the Diageo taskforce to put forward an alternative proposal which had cross party support have shown the Government’s clear commitment to Glasgow’s jobs.
“We must now move quickly to plan for those redundancies and to ensure alternative employment and support is put in place straight away.”
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