Page last updated at 17:21 GMT, Thursday, 3 September 2009 18:21 UK

Diageo will 'evaluate' jobs plan

Johnnie Walker campaign group
Workers have been fighting a concerted campaign to save jobs

Drinks giant Diageo has promised to "evaluate" quickly an alternative proposal to its plans to cut 900 jobs.

The company's head of operations David Gosnell said a meeting with First Minister Alex Salmond and Finance Secretary John Swinney was "excellent".

He said the firm would study the alternative plan that would see a new bottling plant in Kilmarnock and save a distillery in Glasgow.

But he cautioned it would be going too far to say the plan offered new hope.

Diageo aims to streamline its operation by closing the existing bottling plant in Kilmarnock along with the Port Dundas distillery in Glasgow.

The firm says the losses will be offset by the creation of 400 new jobs in Fife, but one estimate suggests the closures would cost the local economy more than £15m a year.

Our alternative proposals are detailed, deliverable and in our collective interest and we are about to start negotiations with Diageo
John Swinney
Finance Secretary

Alternative proposals to the closures have already been agreed by the Johnnie Walker taskforce, which has brought together trades unions, local authorities, Scottish Enterprise and politicians.

Speaking after meeting Mr Gosnell said: " We have had an excellent meeting with the first minister and John Swinney. A very detailed report has been given to us, which we now need to take away and evaluate.

"It's going to take a bit of time to do that, and I want to give it credit but we do want to bring it to a closure fairly soon.

"Our employees are waiting for an answer and I owe it to them to be as fast as I possibly can."

Asked if the plan offered additional hope to the workforce, he replied: "I don't think that's fair to say. I think it's new. We need to look at it and understand it."

If adopted, the proposals would see production continue in the Glasgow distillery and a new plant created in Kilmarnock.

Speaking before the meeting, Mr Swinney said: "Our intention has always been to produce a solution which suits Diageo's business needs and is in Scotland's best interest.

"Our work to reverse Diageo's plans is about safeguarding economically fragile communities of Kilmarnock and Port Dundas.

"The 900 jobs in the west of Scotland are existing jobs which matter to the individuals, their families, and also to the wider community.

"Our alternative proposals are detailed, deliverable and in our collective interest."

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