The Scottish Resources Group (SRG), which owns Scottish Coal, has told miners they could be facing redundancy as the company faces financial difficulties.
Union officials said that workers’ representatives were informed about the job losses at PowerPoint presentations, where senior management laid out a “good news – bad news format”.
The firm admitted the plans had been “shown on a screen” to workers’ representatives at group meetings, and claimed that bosses had wanted to “provide clear, unambiguous information” on the future of the business.
Unions attacked the move as a “despicable new low in employment relations” from SRG, which is understood to be downsizing to two locations. Its mines at St Ninian’s in Fife, Mainshill in South Lanarkshire, and Binston Hill and Dalfond, both East Ayrshire, are expected to close this year.
SRG has said that competition from overseas and the impact of cheap imports have put global prices at “record low levels”.
The 450 workers could lose their jobs within 90 days, after SRG launched a consultation on the redundancy proposals. Scottish Coal employs 758 people
Staff representatives were told about a “good news” post-redundancy picture of SRG as a “streamlined, profitable” business, while the bad news was 400 job losses, the Unite union said.
Unite regional industrial officer Jim Winter said: “The manner in which SRG has notified loyal, hard-working people that their jobs are redundant is totally despicable – a new low for employment relations.
“Our members were subjected to the unedifying spectacle of a PowerPoint presentation that painted the ‘good news’ post-redundancy picture of SRG as a streamlined, profitable business with ‘oven-ready’ projects.
“The ‘bad news’ was that over 400 people would be made redundant in less than 90 days to achieve this.”
Politicians at Holyrood last night condemned SRG’s handling of the proposed job cuts.
Labour MSP Neil Findlay said: “To advise 400 workers they will be made redundant via a management PowerPoint that presents redundancies as ‘streamlining’ is appalling.
“Companies need to realise that they are dealing with human beings and the future of their families.”
SNP MSP John Wilson said: “It also shows the callous nature of the way this process is being carried out and it clearly raises issues about the company’s employment practices. This should have been handled much more sensitively.”
A spokesman for SRG said it “has been in regular dialogue with its unions and other employee representatives for a considerable period of time to try and find a mutually acceptable course to reduce costs and ensure that there is a long-term viable business.
“The main aim at the meetings was to ensure that as many employees as possible received a summary of the board’s strategy at about the same time.”