WORKERS at Hall’s of Broxburn who face losing their jobs spoke of their anxiety at the uncertainty hanging over their future as they left work at the end of their shifts yesterday.
Some said they hoped the plant could be “downscaled” rather than shut down, while others were already making plans to move on.
Many of the staff were from Eastern Europe and said they did not have a good enough level of written English to understand the letter issued by management yesterday to staff.
Peteris Cirulis, 38, originally from Latvia, who has worked in the butchery section for four years, said he would leave Scotland to search for work.
“My boss was saying today that we will shut after the New Year. I am thinking about going to England or Norway to find work. England is a much bigger place and there will be more jobs.”
Marta Gorna and her partner Rafel Ronek, both 27, work at the factory and live in Broxburn with Julia, their 20-month-old baby daughter.
“I’m worried about money and what I will do if we don’t have work. I don’t understand what’s happening but it does not look good,” Ms Gorna said.
Grzegorz Kwapien, from Poland, who has worked at the plant for five years after being recruited through an employment agency, said many employees had been slow to realise they could lose their jobs. “When we first heard the news, most people were shrugging it off saying: ‘Don’t worry, it’s not true’ – they thought it was some kind of mistake.
“My supervisor in the butchery section said: ‘This is the heart of it all, they won’t shut us down.’ But then we heard that was what they were telling people in other departments, too. Now people are upset and worried, but some people think it will be all right and that Vion [Hall’s owner] will keep a part of the factory open.
“I don’t understand the top managers’ politics – I’m a small stone in the machine. I feel it’s going to close, but I hope they could keep some of it open.”
He added: “The unions are passive because so many of the workers are not from Scotland.”
Graham McGilvray, 28, who had just completed his first week at the plant, said: “A lot of people are disappointed, but are talking about moving away to get work. Most of the staff are Polish. I’d say that there are just five Scottish people out of 100 staff in my section.”