On 17 May, I chaired a meeting of key stakeholders, including the Scottish Government, South Lanarkshire Council, Skills Development Scotland, Scottish Enterprise, Business Gateway, trade unions and local elected representatives, including Ms Haughey, in her capacity as the constituency MSP for the area. In order to update stakeholders on the extensive work that is under way to help mitigate the impact on staff at 2 Sisters Food Group, we confirmed at the meeting that a partnership action for continuing employment jobs fair has been arranged for 31 May. On Monday, the First Minister and the Cabinet Secretary for Economy, Jobs and Fair Work met representatives from Unite the union to discuss their concerns regarding the closure.
I reiterate that I am grateful for the work that the minister has done, alongside the Scottish Government’s PACE team. Will the minister provide an update on the outcome of the meeting, particularly concerning the future of the site, the support that is being given to the wider community and the work that is being done to find future employment for the staff who are affected?
The owner of the 2 Sisters site, Amber Real Estate Investments, has agreed to work with Scottish Enterprise, South Lanarkshire Council and other partners to help find a sustainable future for the Cambuslang site following the closure. As a result of the round-table meeting last Thursday, local elected members have also agreed to consider a number of issues affecting the local economy, and will work in partnership with South Lanarkshire Council on those issues. The comprehensive programme of PACE support will also be deployed.
Does the minister agree that the way in which the 2 Sisters Food Group of companies has operated in recent times means that it has prioritised putting money in the pockets of shareholders over the needs of workers and local communities, and that that has resulted in nothing short of economic vandalism being wreaked on the people of Cambuslang?
I recognise how disappointed and upset the local stakeholders are, including elected members such as Mr Kelly and Ms Haughey, and indeed Ged Killen, the local MP. Feelings are clearly running high at the moment. We had a useful discussion with representatives of the company last week. It would be fair to say that I have access to some privileged financial information and that the costs of addressing the needs of the factory were very significant indeed. I am sure that commercial factors underlie the decision, but that does not lessen our disappointment. We have tried all we could to persuade the company to look at more modern factory provision in the area, to try to retain activity there, but we now move on to trying to work with other stakeholders, including local members, to find other employers that might occupy the site, so that we can turn a difficult situation into a more hopeful one for the future.