More than two-thirds of the workers at a Scottish town’s biggest private employer are being made redundant in a cost-cutting measure.
BASF, the German chemicals company, has confirmed that there will be 232 redundancies at its Ciba plant in Paisley, which manufactures synthetic dyes for paints and plastics.
The cuts mean there will be just 120 people left at the Hawkhead Road factory from 2013 onwards.
It is understood to be the biggest single blow to the factory since it was founded more than 40 years ago. Hundreds of jobs have already gone at the plant since 2005.
The first of the job losses at what is said to be the largest classical organic pigment manufacturing facility in the world will occur this year. However, the majority will go in 2012, said BASF.
The company added that the restructuring would make the plant more competitive and give it a more sustainable future.
Concern about the future of the factory surfaced in July last year when workers were sent home for a month to save on operational costs as the economic downturn took hold.
BASF said yesterday’s decision was made because the site was operating at very low levels.
It added that the plant will take over production of some pigment products from BASF’s site in Louisville, Kentucky. Some production at Paisley will be moved to BASF plants with spare capacity in Asia.
The liquid preparation plant will be closed by the end of 2012, with work transferring to a BASF plant in Mexico.
Peter Wormald, the Paisley site manager, said: “This restructuring will reposition the site as a highly utilised, competitive manufacturing supply point in Europe. These changes will result in a smaller BASF site, but one that is more sustainable in the long term.
“Employees who are made redundant will be given support and assistance to help them find alternative employment.”
Ciba, a Swiss company that makes chemical additives for plastics, paper and coatings industries, was taken over by BASF in 2008 in a £3 billion deal. BASF had targeted Ciba after it reported losses following problems with the rising cost of raw materials, currency fluctuations and production difficulties.
Later the same year, BASF closed the Paisley plant’s research and global technical centre, with the loss of 36 jobs.
Before BASF came in, about 100 people were axed; while in March 2007 and in 2006 around 80 staff were made redundant.
In 2005, 30 jobs went as the speciality pigment manufacturing unit was closed down.
Wendy Alexander, the Labour MSP for Paisley North, yesterday argued that the extra £82 million the Scottish Government has received in the Chancellor’s March budget should now be used to resurrect the Glasgow Airport Rail Link (GARL). Its cancellation meant the loss of 1,300 jobs and £300m investment to Renfrewshire and the west of Scotland, she argued.
She said of the BASF announcement: “Everything possible must be done to prevent these jobs from being lost.
“I will be urging the Scottish Government and the company itself to explore alternatives to redundancy and [to] try to find a way forward.”
Renfrewshire Council leader Derek Mackay said: “Our first concern at this difficult time is for the workers and their families. The council will be doing everything it can, along with other public agencies, to make sure they have access to the best advice and guidance available on retraining, finding new employment and getting all the benefits they are entitled to.
“It is clearly very disappointing that such a well established company feels the need to scale back its operations in such a major way.
“However, Renfrewshire isn’t immune to the problems of the global economy and it’s worth pointing out that the company has made clear that its decision was based on a wide-ranging review of its global operations and was in no way a reflection of the performance of its Renfrewshire plant. It’s encouraging at least that 120 jobs will remain here in Renfrewshire.”