Page last updated at 14:00 GMT, Wednesday, 22 July 2009 15:00 UK

Diageo to 'listen' to jobs plan

Diageo distillery, Port Dundas, Glasgow
Diageo announced plans to cut about 900 Scottish jobs last month

Drinks giant Diageo will seriously consider alternative proposals to halt the loss of 900 whisky jobs in Scotland, the first minister has said.

The company plans to close the Johnnie Walker bottling plant in Kilmarnock and the Port Dundas distillery in Glasgow.

But, following a meeting with its chief executive, Alex Salmond said the firm was willing to listen to alternatives.

A joint campaign against the closure has been launched by bodies including Scottish Enterprise and councils.

It has also been backed by trade unions and local MPs and MSPs.

About 700 jobs would be lost with the closure of the East Ayrshire bottling plant and as many as 200 with the closure of the Glasgow facility.

Diageo has said the redundancies would be offset by the creation of 400 jobs at its packaging plant in Leven, Fife.

Diageo will listen constructively to the alternative business case
Alex Salmond
First minister of Scotland

Mr Salmond reiterated that the company's current plans were "unacceptable", while adding that he had not ruled out a public funding package.

In the wake of his meeting with Diageo boss Paul Walsh, the first minister told BBC Scotland: "We've had a confirmation from Diageo that they will indeed listen constructively to the alternative business case that's being prepared on behalf of the joint campaign."

Mr Salmond added: "We want something that comes forward which is acceptable to the Scottish community, but meets the financial objectives of Diageo as a company - it's the balance between the two."

In the issue of providing public funding, he said: "I'm not ruling anything out at this stage, but let's wait until we've got the alternative business case coming forward."

A Diageo spokesman described the meeting, also attended by Scottish Enterprise chief executive Jack Perry, as "constructive".

"We took the opportunity to reassure the first minister and Mr Perry that the company will listen to alternative proposals, which sustain its operations and investment in scotch and Scotland for the long term," the spokesman said.

A march against the closure plans is due to be held in Kilmarnock on Sunday.

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