Michelin action group meets for first time

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image captionThe group includes politicians, business leaders and trade union representatives

An action group tasked with saving the jobs of Michelin workers in Dundee has met for the first time.

The tyre manufacturer announced last week it would be closing its factory in the city which employs more than 800 people.

Politicians, business leaders and trade union representatives are among those making up the task force.

Scotland's Economy Secretary Derek Mackay told the BBC he thought Michelin could still have a future in Dundee.

Michelin workers were told last Tuesday that the plant would close by mid-2020.

The French firm said the Dundee site, which specialised in smaller tyres, had suffered because of a shift in the market towards low-cost products from Asia.

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image captionWorkers were told of the factory's closure at a meeting last Tuesday

The news has sent shockwaves through Dundee where the firm is thought to be worth more than £40m to the local economy.

Local people have been making tyres at its Balvodie factory since the early 1970s and it is now the largest industrial employer in the city.

Mr Mackay said the new action group would "explore all options" for the plant.

Speaking on the BBC's Good Morning Scotland radio programme, he said: "We are open to a range of ideas at this point in time."

Mr Mackay said that when he met Michelin executives they did not want to revisit the decision of closing production in Dundee, however he said they were still "interested in what was going on in Scotland".

He added: "I think it is possible that Michelin still has a future in Dundee, and that's what we have to convince them of."

The economy secretary said: "I think there is a willingness to hear us out, and they've said they have never had a government so constructive and positive in these circumstances.

"So I see that as a window of opportunity, I see that as a positive, to do everything that we can to explore every possible avenue to try to retain as many jobs at Dundee as we can."

The action group will be led by Scottish Enterprise chief executive Steve Dunlop and Dundee City Council leader John Alexander.

Mr Mackay, Scotland Secretary David Mundell and John Reid, director of Michelin's Dundee site, will also be involved.

Mr Mackay said Michelin executives have said they will meet him again in about three weeks time, when he will present them with any proposition that the action group has developed.

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