A CAMPAIGN has been launched to save a historic biscuit factory in Glasgow as a row erupted over the closure plans of the McVitie's biscuits owner which will result in the loss of hundreds of 'key worker' jobs.

Turkey-owned and UK-based Pladis, the UK-based firm encompassing United Biscuits, said the proposal to close the site in Tollcross in the east end of the city would put 468 roles at risk of redundancy and is currently subject to consultation.

Unite Scotland have launched a campaign to keep the factory from closure as Scottish Labour Leader Anas Sarwar said it was "a kick in the teeth" to the workforce who are classed as 'key workers' during the pandemic and kept production going.

It comes four years after the GMB Scotland union raised fears for its future and sought reassurances from managers over the factory which produces Hobnobs and Rich Tea biscuits, among other products.

The union raised worries Pladis was not committed long-term having been silent over the future of modernisation investment at the Tollcross site. Pladis had said it had invested more than £5m in the previous few years.

Generations of families have worked at the Glasgow biscuit works which first opened in 1925 as part of the Macfarlane and Lang's Victoria Biscuit Works.

The McVitie’s presence in Scotland goes back to the original Scottish biscuit maker, McVitie & Price Ltd, which was established in 1830 in Edinburgh.

The company's UK and Ireland managing director David Murray said: "We know this news will be difficult for our colleagues at Tollcross.


"Our priority now is to provide them with the support they need during the consultation process.

"Pladis is home to some of Britain's best loved brands which have been part of the fabric of our society for nearly two hundred years.

"In order to protect them for generations to come, we must take steps to address excess capacity in the UK.

"This overcapacity limits our ability to make the right investments in future capabilities to meet the very big changes in our industry."

GMB said that 91 percent of the staff admitted they were afraid to catch coronavirus at work as they kept Tollcross production going.

Those working in food manufacturing and distribution were recognised by the government as key workers.

The Unite Scotland union is now requesting that all relevant bodies including Glasgow City Council, Scottish Enterprise and the Scottish Government meet with the trade unions as a "matter of urgency" to explore ways that could keep the factory open.

Pat McIlvogue, Unite industrial officer, added:"We have a duty of care to hundreds of families to work tirelessly in an effort to bring forward proposals which can keep the factory open. We can't allow a world-renowned Scottish brand to have no workers left in Glasgow and Scotland. Closure simply isn’t an option.”

GMB Scotland Secretary Gary Smith described the decision as "utterly shameful" and "the lowest of the low after a wretched year".

“Staff have worked through the Covid-19 pandemic because management insist these are key workers, helping this business increase its lockdown sales into billions of pounds, but instead of re-investing some of that money back into the Tollcross plant and its dedicated workforce, management are rewarding them with the closure of their site within a year.


"David Murray has no clue how important this plant is to the local economy or what the implications of it’s closure will be. There has been no indication or presentation of the 'comprehensive business analysis' which the company speaks of, and we’re not prepared to wait for formal consultation either.

“We want full transparency from pladis immediately on the rationale for this proposal, and we will absolutely fight against this closure.”

Scottish Labour Leader Anas Sarwar said the decision was the result of decades of underinvestment. “This is a kick in the teeth to that dedicated workforce and McVitie’s owners must think again. This pandemic has created a jobs crisis in Scotland and this news will devastate almost 500 families," he said.

“We urgently need a jobs plan as part of a national recovery. Ministers both in Edinburgh and London cannot sit on their hands and let more Scots end up out of work.

“They must act urgently to protect livelihoods in the East End.

“Scottish Labour stands ready to work trade unionists, Scottish Enterprise and both of Scotland’s government to keep this iconic brand and these vital jobs in Glasgow.”

Seven years ago, United Biscuits said they planned to cut 166 workers at the factory saying the changes were necessary to keep its operation "modern, efficient and competitive". It then had a 680-strong workforce.

It came a matter of months after Pladis's Turkish food group parent company Yildis Holdings bought United Biscuits for around £2bn making it the third largest biscuit manufacturer in the world.

Yildiz, which owned Belgium's Godiva Chocolate and America's De Met's Candy Company had until then no operations in the UK, but had a presence in the US, Middle East, North Africa, China, and Japan.

Chairman Murat Ulker said at the time: "We want to grow United Biscuits to be a global player as part of Yildiz.

"This will include enhancing its position in the UK."

Glasgow East MP David Linden said the news came as a "total body blow".

“Above all, it’s a massive kick in the teeth to the loyal workforce at Tollcross – many of whom have worked there for decades.

“Since 2017, I’ve been engaging with Pladis around the challenges they face as a business and I was genuinely encouraged to learn that things had started to turn a corner.

“Therefore, news of proposed closure comes as something of a bolt out of the blue.

“My sole focus right now is on engaging with Pladis, local and national government, as well as the trade unions.

“This is a deeply worrying time for everyone associated with the factory at Tollcross and no stone must be left unturned as we fight to protect local jobs.”