MSPs step in with questions over potential Baxters job cuts

Baxters - David Stewart MSP has written to the company
Baxters – David Stewart MSP has written to the company

A SCOTTISH LABOUR MSP has stepped into the row over potential job losses at the Baxters factory in Fochabers.

Last week it was revealed by the international company that up to 80 jobs could be shed from their Moray workforce of 700.

Saying that the company had to undergo a period of ‘transformational change’, Baxters chief executive, Audrey Baxter, revealed that a study was under way into how the firm could meet the challenge of “aggressive promotional challenges”, with staff warned that this could mean trimming the workforce at Fochabers.

The Moray base is the only part of the international group that is currently being studied with a view to jobs being shed.

Now David Stewart, whose Highlands and Islands constituency includes Moray, has entered the fray, saying: “I am concerned to hear that Baxter’s of Fochabers are looking at shedding up to 80 jobs as they go into a period of transformational change to make the company more competitive for the European market.

“This is a large number of jobs and for a small scattered community to lose so many is a real concern.

“I understand that there will be a period of consultation with staff and the plans are that the jobs will go over the next two years.

“I have written to Highlands and Islands Enterprise and the Scottish Government asking what form of support has been offered to the company and the workers to allow them diversify?

“I have also asked what other opportunities in relation to local employment have been looked at – and I have written to Baxters asking the company what measures can be taken to retain as many of these jobs as possible.”

Last night the newly elected Conservative MSP Douglas Ross added his voice to those concerned.  Mr Ross, who is also a local Moray councillor for the Fochabers/Lhanbryde constituency in which the Baxters plant stands, said: “There has been several generations of the same family working at Baxters – they are a very local staff and this can have a serious impact on several families and not just one individual.

“We need to do as much as possible to encourage other businesses to relocate here and to employ the highly skilled local staff we have, because a lot of people come here with perhaps the military, and they want to stay here.

“If the ultimate job losses are around the 80 mark then we want to ensure that as many of them as possible stay within the local economy. If that means retraining then I think we should be doing everything we can to encourage them.”