ALCAN, the world's second-largest aluminium maker, yesterday said it will close its 85-year-old specialist chemical factory in Burntisland, Fife, by the end of the month with the loss of 385 jobs.

The plant was put up for sale in January as Alcan revealed fourth-quarter group losses of $357m ((pounds) 230m) amid slumping aluminium prices and tepid demand for metal.

Montreal-based Alcan had been unable to find a buyer for the Burntisland plant, after announcing its withdrawal earlier this year from the European specialty chemicals market.

The closure announcement ends the hopes of a management buy-out (MBO) team, which had been attempting to negotiate a deal since the beginning of the year.

It was also the final blow at the end of a long rollercoaster ride for the workforce - many of whom are fourth-generation employees at the plant - who believed their jobs were safe after Alcan signed a letter of intent in July with the UK-based Rider Group to buy the plant.

When Alcan pulled out of talks with Rider, hopes for the MBO were rekindled - but to no avail.

GMB Scotland, the trade union which represents most of the workers at the plant, yesterday accused Alcan of treating its Scottish workers like turkeys before Christmas.

''Alcan will make a fortune come Christmas out of its cooking foil and speciality package business, but they acted like Scrooge when it came to dealing with their local employees,'' said Robert Parker, GMB regional secretary.

''They offered a miserly compensation package, which

they threatened to take off the table if the workforce and their trade union representatives pressed for a more realistic settlement.''

Alcan yesterday said it expected a record fourth quarter, despite the charge it will take for closing the Fife factory.

The company has a range of businesses across Scotland, including an aluminium plant and hydroelectric operation in Lochaber.

The loss of 200 jobs at the company's packaging plant in Glasgow had previously been announced last December.