South Scotland

Arla Lockerbie butter production switch sparks job loss concerns

Arla plant Image copyright Arla
Image caption About 22 jobs could be lost or relocated under the proposals

Jobs could be lost or relocated at Arla's Lockerbie plant under plans to move part of its butter operations.

The company said about 22 posts were affected by the proposals to transfer the work to Westbury in Wiltshire.

Site director Jim Grieve said they were working to minimise the impact through a variety of measures.

South of Scotland MSP Colin Smyth said he was "deeply concerned" at the prospect of any job losses at the site as a major employer in the area.

The move will see part of Arla's small butter operation moved to Westbury with Lockerbie continuing to produce Scottish butter and whey butter.

'Vacant roles'

The company stressed the proposals did not affect fresh milk or cheese production and milk collection from farms would also be unaffected.

Mr Grieve said: "We hope to be able to transfer 12 colleagues to other vacant roles at our site, as well as look at whether we can fill vacant positions at other Arla sites, including Westbury.

"At the same time, we are considering applications for voluntary redundancy from the site.

"We are committed to doing everything we can to support our colleagues at this time."

'Real blow'

He said that as a farmer-owned company their aim was to "add value to every litre of milk" and the proposal would allow both sites involved to develop their expertise.

Mr Smyth said he would be urging the company to avoid any compulsory redundancies.

"There has been a lot of investment in the plant in recent years and it is hugely important for the many local farmers whose milk goes to the site," he said.

"But most importantly it is a major employer in the Lockerbie area.

"Any jobs losses will be a tragedy for those affected and a real blow to the local economy at what is a very uncertain time for many companies."

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