Page last updated at 14:19 GMT, Tuesday, 28 July 2009 15:19 UK

Protests may 'put off' investors

Protest march
Thousands marched against the closure of the Kilmarnock plant

Business leaders have warned that protests against the closure of Kilmarnock's Johnnie Walker plant could put investors off coming to Scotland.

Drinks giant Diageo wants to close the plant and its Port Dundas distillery in Glasgow with the loss of 900 jobs.

CBI Scotland director Iain McMillan said he was concerned about the signals protests sent to overseas investors.

But Graeme Smith of the Scottish Trades Union Congress (STUC) described the comments as "extreme silliness".

First Minister Alex Salmond joined about 20,000 people who took part in a march and rally at the weekend.

Mr McMillan said campaigners had a "right and legitimacy" to express their concerns.

But he told BBC Scotland: "We do have to be careful about the signal we send out from Scotland to the rest of the world.

"We didn't see this reaction when the Japanese NEC factory closed in Livingston with hundreds of jobs, we didn't see this reaction when Motorola in Bathgate closed, again with the loss of hundreds of jobs."

He added: "I do have a concern that those potential inward investors could become concerned and think we if we invest in Scotland we will get a great welcome, but if we try and restructure our business, which might involve some closures, then woe betide you - we'll be marching on your front door."

Mr Smith, the general secretary of the STUC, said: "All around the world, decisions by global corporations to close workplaces are inevitably met by strong campaigns led by workers anxious to save jobs and communities.

"This is particularly true when employers are as deeply embedded in communities as Diageo is in Kilmarnock and Port Dundas.

The consequences of the closure of the Johnnie Walker plant in Kilmarnock will be utterly devastating
John Swinney MSP
Finance secretary

"If Diageo has been taken by surprise in this instance it simply betrays the arrogance with which they have approached the process."

He added: "Who knows, perhaps potential investors may even be impressed by the passion, loyalty and commitment demonstrated by the Diageo workforce and the communities of Kilmarnock and Port Dundas?"

Finance Secretary John Swinney said that the announcement had sparked a "significant reaction" in the Ayrshire town.

He said: "The consequences of the closure of the Johnnie Walker plant in Kilmarnock will be devastating - utterly devastating - for the whole of the Kilmarnock economy."

Alternative plan

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

Bosses have said they remain open to alternative suggestions.

Scottish Enterprise, the government's enterprise agency, is co-ordinating an effort to draw up a plan for an alternative to closure but Mr Swinney declined to say how many jobs he thought could be saved.

"We'll see what we can come up with as part of that plan and I'm certainly not going to pre-judge what the plan will say at this stage," he added.



Print Sponsor


SEE ALSO
Rally 'puts pressure' on Diageo
27 Jul 09 |  Glasgow, Lanarkshire and West
Thousands attend Diageo protest
26 Jul 09 |  Glasgow, Lanarkshire and West
Diageo to 'listen' to jobs plan
22 Jul 09 |  Glasgow, Lanarkshire and West
Celebrities back whisky workers
21 Jul 09 |  Glasgow, Lanarkshire and West
'Listen to people' call to Diageo
14 Jul 09 |  Glasgow, Lanarkshire and West
F1 fans urged to back jobs fight
12 Jul 09 |  Glasgow, Lanarkshire and West
Diageo defends 900 job cut plan
09 Jul 09 |  Glasgow, Lanarkshire and West
Chapter closes on whisky history
01 Jul 09 |  Glasgow, Lanarkshire and West
Salmond slams Diageo management
02 Jul 09 |  Glasgow, Lanarkshire and West
Diageo to cut 900 Scottish jobs
01 Jul 09 |  Glasgow, Lanarkshire and West

RELATED INTERNET LINKS
The BBC is not responsible for the content of external internet sites


FEATURES, VIEWS, ANALYSIS
Has China's housing bubble burst?
How the world's oldest clove tree defied an empire
Why Royal Ballet principal Sergei Polunin quit

BBC iD

Sign in

BBC navigation

Copyright © 2017 BBC. The BBC is not responsible for the content of external sites. Read more.

This page is best viewed in an up-to-date web browser with style sheets (CSS) enabled. While you will be able to view the content of this page in your current browser, you will not be able to get the full visual experience. Please consider upgrading your browser software or enabling style sheets (CSS) if you are able to do so.

Americas Africa Europe Middle East South Asia Asia Pacific