211 Job Losses At Historic Falkirk Firm

18 April 2016, 16:10 | Updated: 18 April 2016, 16:12

An historic sink manufacturer has announced plans to close and transfer production to eastern Europe, putting almost 200 jobs at risk.

Carron Phoenix in Falkirk will shut in stages as production is moved to a new plant in Slovakia.

Swiss-based owner Franke blames "intense pressure from other international manufacturers'' for the closure and said it hopes none of its 211 staff will have to be made redundant before 2017.

About 15 warehousing jobs will be retained as the firm creates a new logistics base in Falkirk.

Franke operations director Bart Doornkamp said: "We are facing intense pressure from other international manufacturers in what is a very competitive global market and have been working hard over the past year to devise an effective, long-term strategy.

"As a result, regrettably we have been left with no choice but to close our three existing facilities in Falkirk, Brunssum in Holland and Zilina in Slovakia, and centralise our production on a more efficient, purpose-built greenfield site in Slovakia which will open in spring 2017.

"This is not a decision we have taken lightly. We examined in great detail the option of upgrading the Falkirk plant but the high level of investment that would have been required made the business case simply unsustainable.

"Consultation with the trade unions is a priority to ensure that we undertake an orderly, phased closure of the plant by December 2017.

"Dependent on those discussions, we are hopeful that there will be no redundancies before the start of next year.

"We are committed to working with the unions to finalise appropriate terms for employees and, wherever possible, to agree support to help them find new jobs and training opportunities. We are confident we will reach agreement on these issues in the coming weeks.

"We are also in touch with Scottish Enterprise and the local authority to ensure all possible support is given to the workforce.''

The firm started in 1759 as the Carron Iron Company, which at its height employed 5,000 people and was the largest ironworks in Europe.

During its heyday, the company owned a fleet of steamships and issued its own currency to enable global trading.

The factory became famous for making the Carronade canons used by Wellington at the Battle of Waterloo and later began making red telephone boxes and postboxes.

The original firm fell into receivership in 1982 and was bought out by management before being sold to Franke in 1990.

Gary Cook, GMB Scotland Regional Officer, said : "This is another hammer blow to the Scottish economy and the workers are absolutely devastated.

"Once again Scottish workers are left pleading for a government intervention to try and save their livelihoods and skills - a depressingly familiar scenario that cannot continue unchallenged.''

He added: "GMB Scotland will campaign to fight this closure but if this latest blow cannot focus the minds of our politicians on the crisis in manufacturing, then I don't know what will.''