Joe Cullinane

Scottish Labour Councillor for Kilwinning

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HOWCO staff need more than warm words from First Minister

Labour’s Joe Cullinane has called on Nicola Sturgeon to deliver on her ‘warm words’ to staff threatened with redundancy at HOWCO in Irvine.

19 workers at the Irvine factory lost their jobs in August, the majority through compulsory redundancy, and a further 31 workers face redundancy before Christmas. On a recent visit to Irvine the First Minister said that her Government will do “everything to help” the staff affected. However, Councillor Cullinane feels that a letter he has received from the First Minister fails to deliver on these words.

Commenting on the letter Councillor Cullinane, who has maintained contact with workers at the factory since the losses were announced, said;

“The First Minister’s response focuses more on steps to support workers when they lose their jobs rather than provide support to actually retain those jobs. I can't help but feel this doesn't deliver on her warm words to the workforce at the factory just a few weeks ago.”

“I do acknowledge that the oil and gas sector is experiencing great difficulties but this is endemic of the SNP’s economic planning. Last year Nicola Sturgeon and the rest of the SNP cabinet joined Alex Salmond in Irvine as part of their referendum tour and they gleefully announced investment in HOWCO’s Irvine factory declaring it had a ‘bright and health future for decades to come’. That bright future has turned into a living nightmare for 25% of the workforce who will have lost their jobs over the last few months. I think our First Minister must reflect on the promises her Government made on local jobs at the factory last year and do more to safeguard people’s livelihoods by fighting to retain these jobs.”

Commenting further on the investment of public money in the Irvine factory Councillor Cullinane added;

“The First Minister’s letter does confirm that some public money, albeit not the whole £750,000 that her Government announced last year, has been invested in the Irvine factory. We need absolute openness and transparency on this issue – we need to know how much public money has been invested to date and what benefits the local economy was meant to receive from this investment.”

“It seems pretty clear that whatever the intended benefits they haven't transpired. The First Minister may not have disclosed how much public money has already been invested but I have already written to Scottish Enterprise to ask for full disclosure. Taxpayers money has been invested in the factory and we can't allow the only return on this investment to be P45’s for 50 hardworking individuals at the factory.”


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