Page last updated at 00:53 GMT, Sunday, 12 July 2009 01:53 UK

F1 fans urged to back jobs fight

Lewis Hamilton
The Johnnie Walker brand sponsors the McLaren Mercedes team

Formula One fans have been urged to sign an online petition opposing Diageo's plans to cut hundreds of jobs.

SNP MSP Willie Coffey made the call as Lewis Hamilton's McLaren Mercedes team, sponsored by the Johnnie Walker brand, competed in the German Grand Prix.

Diageo plans to cut 900 jobs by closing the Johnnie Walker bottling plant in Kilmarnock and a distillery in Glasgow.

Labour MSP Patricia Ferguson has meanwhile announced plans for a cross-party summit to oppose the cuts.

Ms Ferguson, whose Maryhill constituency includes the threatened Port Dundas distillery, said she would host the summit along with the Unite and GMB unions in the first week of August.

This weekend as Johnnie Walker is advertised to the world, it's the turn of Formula One fans to show their support
William Coffey MSP

The meeting will also involve Glasgow City Council leader Stephen Purcell and politicians from the Kilmarnock area.

She said: "It is essential we work together on this. We cannot divide the workforce in this campaign. Unity is strength."

She said she hoped Scottish Enterprise will have drawn up an alternative business case by the time of the meeting.

"The summit will be both a review of progress to date, and an opportunity for cross-party politicians and the workforce to plan the next phase of our campaign," she added.

Kilmarnock MSP William Coffey said there had been a "tremendous outpouring" of support for workers at the town's bottling plant, which employs 700 staff.

He said: "This weekend as Johnnie Walker is advertised to the world, it's the turn of Formula One fans to show their support.

"I am calling on all Formula One fans, as they settle down to watch the Grand Prix to take two minutes to go online and sign the petition - and ask a friend to do so too."

Diageo has said it can save £20m a year by closing the Kilmarnock and Port Dundas sites, and transferring work to plants at Leven and Cameron Bridge in Fife and Shieldhall in Glasgow.

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