Highland wind turbine material manufacturer to axe 80 jobs as union claims Scotland renewable energy drive has 'stalled'
SGL Carbon said a decline in demand for the material used in making wind turbines by a third had forced it to shut down several production lines at its Muir of Ord site, west of Inverness.
The company, which is based in Germany, said the redundancies affected about a third of its 230 workers at the site.
Union GMB Scotland said the 80 redundancies had shown the reality behind political rhetoric promising a “just transition” would create jobs in green power.
Lesley-Anne MacAskill, GMB Scotland organiser in the Highlands, said the redundancies exposed a lack of official support and investment.
She said: “SGL Carbon should be a prime example of what ministers like to call a just transition, creating well-paid, skilled jobs in renewables.
“Instead, it is a prime example of what is going wrong in Scotland where there is no transition, just or otherwise. The only thing in transition are jobs and contracts going abroad.
“We have heard many promises from the UK and Scottish governments of the thousands of jobs being created tomorrow, but nothing at all about practical support and investment to protect jobs today.”
The cuts have come less than a year after Scottish Government trade minister Ivan McKee visited the plant. He had hailed the company’s work, saying: “SGL is a prime example of the positive impact inward investors can have on Scotland’s regions.”
A consultation process has taken place between GMB Scotland and SGL Carbon. The union claimed the talks had reduced the number of compulsory redundancies and improved terms for workers leaving.
Development agency Highlands and Islands Enterprise has offered support to workers set to be made redundant at SGL Carbon.
A Scottish Government spokesperson said: “It was disappointing to learn of potential job losses at SGL Carbon based in Muir of Ord. This will be a very uncertain time for the staff, their families and everyone in the local area."
The spokesperson added the Government was continually working on attracting inward investment.
First Minister Humza Yousaf had announced in October that up to £500 million would be invested over the next five years to leverage private investment in ports, manufacturing and assembly work to support major supply chain opportunities to Scotland for wind and renewables projects.
“It is essential that we work together to deliver a net zero economy and do so in a fair and just way,” he said in a statement at the time. “No-one – not least our energy workforces and the communities they support – can be left behind.”
But Ms MacAskill said: “We need practical plans that will protect jobs offshore for as long we need oil and gas while building the production capability and infrastructure needed to create well-paid jobs in renewables.
“The redundancies at SGL are a body blow to the workers involved, but should shame politicians who continue to talk about just transition while failing to protect jobs and communities with practical, effective support and investment.”
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