Page last updated at 21:01 GMT, Wednesday, 19 August 2009 22:01 UK

Efforts to stop Diageo closures

Protest poster
The company said it would co-operate with the taskforce

Politicians and unions have been meeting to discuss how to persuade whisky giant Diageo not to shut two plants earmarked for closure.

Finance Secretary John Swinney chaired a private meeting of the taskforce at St Andrews House in Edinburgh.

He said work on proposed alternatives to closure would now be refined and put forward as soon as possible.

Diageo proposes to close its Johnnie Walker bottling plant in Kilmarnock and the Port Dundas distillery.

It says the 900 job losses would be off-set by 400 new posts in Fife.

Scottish Enterprise, the government's enterprise agency, is co-ordinating efforts to draw up a plan for an alternative to closure.

The taskforce has been studying a report by BDO Stoy Hayward, which evaluated Diageo's original plans and has been looking at information on possible alternatives.

Range of options

The report will not be made available publicly as it contains commercially sensitive information.

Mr Swinney said it included a range of options, including Diageo building a smaller bottling plant in Kilmarnock.

He said: "The task now is to take the evidence we have received from the consultants to build the alternative proposition, which Scottish Enterprise are now taking forward.

"That proposition will be prepared very speedily, based on the evidence and information we have, and taken forward for discussion with Diageo.

"The focus of that alternative will be to protect employment at the plants at Port Dundas and Kilmarnock."

Diageo has said it would co-operate with the efforts of the taskforce and listen to its conclusions.

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.

The company has said the redundancies would be offset by the jobs it plans to create at its packaging plant in Leven, Fife.

It estimates the closure plans should save £20m each year, from an investment of £100m.

The taskforce is made up of representatives from East Ayrshire Council, Glasgow City Council, Scottish Enterprise, trades unions and local politicians.

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