Local MSP comments on Diageo job losses

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Commenting on theannouncement by Diageo that it is to make a net jobs cut of up to 500 jobsacross Scotland with several hundred job losses at its Johnnie Walker plant inKilmarnock and plans to close the plant altogether by 2011 local SNP MSP WillieCoffey said:


“I have met the localmanagement this morning and made clear that this decision makes no sense asthey are making handsome and significant profits. It’s like the corporate worldgone mad.


“Thenet job losses to Scotland, if this goes ahead will be around 500 – but theimpact in Kilmarnock would mean 700 job losses in the town.


“Thatwill be a hammer blow to Kilmarnock if they go through with this. Johnnie Walker hasbeen connected with the town since 1820 and it makes no sense to cut that link.


“To abandon that link isscandalous. History plays a big part in the appeal of whisky, but it wouldappear that Diageo place no value on that history. Focussing solely on thebalance sheet is not what built Johnnie Walker into a world-leading brand.


"If Diageo don't feelthat they can continue to develop Johnnie Walker from its Kilmarnock base, perhaps they should consider disposing of the brand to a companythat can.


“I am grateful that theFirst Minister has spoken to the company at the earliest opportunity today.


“I can pledge to theworkforce at the plant and the people of Kilmarnock that I will be working hard to assist them at this time.”


Commenting on news FinanceSecretary John Swinney said:


"This is an extremelydisappointing announcement which could mean up to 500 workers losing theirjobs. The Scottish Government is asking the company to reconsider this courseof action and to look at alternatives which protect employment.


"The First Minister hasthis morning spoken to the company and will meet senior executives tomorrow tomake exactly that point.


"This will be aparticularly worrying time for workers at Kilmarnock and Port Dundas. We note there will be no compulsory redundancies for12 months - a pledge we want the company to guarantee - and welcome thecreation of 400 new jobs at the company's new packaging plant in Fife.


"If job losses occur wewill, through Skills Development Scotland, coordinate local response teamsunder the Partnership Action for Continuing Employment (PACE) initiative.


"The food and drinkindustry is vital to the Scottish economy and it is encouraging that Diageoremains a significant employer and is committed to Scotland.


"Our recently launchedNational Food and Drink Policy recognises Scotland's reputation as a land of food and drink and willhelp support the sector's contribution to the Government's purpose ofincreasing sustainable economic growth.


"And we are supportingbusinesses and individuals through ScotAction, our skills support packageproviding financial assistance during the current economic downturn."


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