Tayside and Central Scotland

William 'optimistic' about future for Michelin workers

Duke and Duchess of Cambridge Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge attended a meeting of the Michelin Action Group

The Duke of Cambridge has said he is "optimistic" about the future for workers at a tyre factory in Dundee which is set to close.

Prince William and the Duchess of Cambridge met staff from the Michelin premises during a visit on Tuesday.

They joined workers at the Crescent community centre and asked how the closure was affecting them.

The couple, known in Scotland as the Earl and Countess of Strathearn, also opened Dundee's V&A Museum of Design.

Speaking at the Michelin Action Group meeting, Prince William said: "The factory has been a huge part of Dundee's very fabric. It has been a key employer for generations and has helped sustain the local economy for nearly 50 years.

"For everyone affected, the hope is that all of you sat in this room can find a positive way forward.

"You all deserve enormous credit for sitting around this table together to find a constructive way forward. It is understandable that there are different views about what is the right course to take."

Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption The duke and duchess spoke to Michelin workers

He added: "As I have just heard, when a community faces uncertainty, people feel more optimistic when leaders such as yourselves work together for that community.

"Because of the collaborative approach adopted by the people in this room, I am optimistic that a good outcome is possible with the site at Michelin."

Prince William said he was encouraged by the fact that a taskforce had been established with all the key players represented.

"As a result of you working together responsibly to find a long-term solution, you have already reached agreement on developing the site into a manufacturing, recycling and low-carbon transport hub.

"The workers we spoke to just now were encouraged to hear about this. They look forward to hearing further detail about how this will affect them directly. Catherine and I look forward to learning more about your plans in this discussion.

"Both of us, and all of the people that we have spoken to today, are willing you to succeed."

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Media captionThe Earl and Countess of Strathearn officially open Dundee's V&A Museum of Design

The French firm announced the closure in November with the loss of 845 jobs. The closure will take place by mid-2020 after it was deemed "unsuitable" in the current climate.

Since then it has joined the taskforce - along with the local authority and Scottish Enterprise, among others - to find a solution for the site and its staff.

Brian Cairns is the firm's HR business partner, working on the My Future programme to help reskill and retrain staff.

The 54-year-old from Alva, Clackmannanshire, said: "(The duke) was interested in who we are and the service with Michelin.

"One of the comments he made is how there seemed to be a lot of camaraderie still at the table.

"The problem we have in Dundee is we have people who have been employed for 30, 40 years and have never written a CV, have never had an interview and the job market has changed dramatically.

"What Dundee are offering its employees I've never heard of before. It's absolutely fantastic."

Image copyright EPA/Robert Perry
Image caption The Royal couple were welcomed to the museum by Dundee lord provost Ian Borthwick

Scottish Economy Secretary Derek Mackay added: "I want to thank the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge for attending the Michelin Dundee Action Group and for recognising the collaborative approach we have taken to secure a long-term future for the Michelin Dundee site.

"The Scottish government will continue to do everything we can to support the repurposing of the Michelin Dundee site as an Innovation Parc, as it becomes a key location for low carbon energy and low carbon transport development in Scotland."

Image copyright Russell Cheyne/Reuters
Image caption The Royal couple greeted crowds outside the museum following their visit

Before meeting the Michelin workers, the duke and duchess officially opened the new V&A Museum.

The museum opened in September and has attracted more than 380,000 visitors.

The Royal couple met the museum's architect Kengo Kuma, local designers, and schoolchildren during their visit.

In her speech to the invited audience, Catherine said: "I have been amazed by the breathtaking architecture and the sheer range of design on display.

"Most of all, I've been moved by the passion of the people who work here and the dedication of all those who have helped make this important project succeed."

Image copyright Jane Barlow/PA
Image caption The duchess spoke to an invited audience at the official opening of V&A Dundee

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