TYRE production at the Michelin plant in Dundee has come to an end after 50 years, a union says.

The tyre factory, which first opened in 1972, announced in 2018 that it would officially close its doors in June this year.

Michelin had initially planned to restart production after April 13 and carry on until the plant’s closure, however the company has concluded it would be “unviable and unwise” amid the “growing challenges” caused by the coronavirus outbreak.

But the timeline has been accelerated in light of the Covid-19 pandemic, says the union Unite.

The closure decision was blamed on an "influx of cheap foreign imports" from Asia into the European market and falling demand for premium tyres in smaller dimensions, according to the union.

But the company has said the workforce will be paid the wages they would have been entitled to if production had ended in the summer.

Last year it emerged that 400 employees had found new jobs since Michelin announced the closure of the factory, which opened in 1971.

 Unite has said it continues to engage with the Michelin-Scotland Alliance which is working towards the transformation of the site through the development of an Innovation Parc.

The initiative aims to create opportunities in manufacturing, remanufacturing, recycling and low carbon transport.

Bob MacGregor, Unite regional industrial officer, said: "It's a very sad day for the people of Dundee that 50 years of tyre production at the Michelin plant has come to an end before the summer when it was scheduled to finish.

"However, we want to recognise that Michelin has acted as a responsible employer throughout the Covid-19 pandemic and has agreed to pay the workers their full wages up until the summer. Unite continues to work with the company to find a long-term future through the repurposing of the plant. As one chapter comes to an end, we hope that another one will begin and hundreds of jobs can be retained on site."

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Factory manager John Reid said employees would be mobilised to volunteer for projects set up by the community, government and health services to support people during the Covid-19 crisis.

“Our priority remains the safety of our workforce. This is an unexpected end to tyre production at our factory, but we believe this is the best decision for our employees and their families.

“We will be developing a new employability programme to help people find their next positive destination, be that retirement, further education or a new job. 

“We’re also conscious that some people will find being confined to their homes tough, so wellbeing support will continue to be important. 

“We will be using technology and social media combined with a limited presence on site until the virus allows more normal working.

“We would like to take this opportunity to thank our team in Dundee for their support and hard work during what has been a very challenging time.”