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Business Minister to discuss Pinneys case with Marks and Spencer bosses

Joan McAlpine has welcomed news that Business Minister Paul Wheelhouse will meet Marks and Spencer bosses to discuss the threatened closure of Pinneys in Annan.

Mr Wheelhouse revealed details of the meeting in response to a question in parliament from Joan McAlpine, who says Marks and Spencer are obligated to the workforce in Annan, as they have been Pinney's only customer for several years.

Questioning the Minister in Parliament today, Ms McAlpine said:

“The Minister will be aware that Pinneys sole customer under Young's was Marks and Spencer, and had been for several years.

 “I appreciate that the groceries regulation is a reserved matter and that exclusivity of supply is not prohibited in the grocer's code of conduct. 

 “But does the minister agree with me that while such an arrangement may seem beneficial when demand is high, it can have very negative effects when there are challenges?”

 In his response, the Business Minister said:

“We do recognise that there are commercial considerations here, but I do identify with the point that Joan McAlpine has said in the respect that where we have a plant being dedicated effectively to one client then clearly if any work is lost from that client it means that plant is particularly vulnerable.

“We are looking to engage with M&S in this particular scenario and seeking to meet with M&S senior management team this week.

“We have had some initial conversations with M&S but I want to speak to them on the specific issue about single company sites and I agree with Joan McAlpine that this situation is starkly illustrated in this case.

“The risks associated with having a single client site is obviously horribly exposed in the context of what has happened at Annan.”

Ms McAlpine raised the issue of contract exclusivity with the retail giant in a letter last week, and was assured by their chief executive Steve Rowe that Marks would engage with the action group set up try to save jobs.

Ms McAlpine is scheduled to speak with Young’s boss Bill Showalter today (Wednesday April 18th 2018).

CLOSURE OF PINNEYS WOULD BE AN “ECONOMIC TSUNAMI” FOR THE ECONOMY OF ANNAN, MSP TELLS SCOTTISH PARLIAMENT

South Scotland MSP Colin Smyth has today (17 April) spoke up in the Scottish Parliament on behalf of workers at Pinneys in Annan and warned MSPs that the closure of the factory would be an “economic tsunami” for the area.

 
The MSP was questioning the Scottish Government’s Business Minister Paul Wheelhouse on what support the Scottish Government would provide the local economy, where Colin Smyth highlighted that the real level of job losses if Pinneys closed would be nearer 700, taking account seasonal and agency workers. The local MSP called on the Government to tackle the fundamental weaknesses in the local economy which leaves Annan so vulnerable if Pinneys closed.
 
Speaking in the Scottish Parliament Colin Smyth MSP said,
 
“When you add agency and seasonal workers to the permanent workforce, the potential job losses if Pinneys closes is likely to nearer 700 which would be an economic tsunami in a community the size of Annan with a working population of just five and half thousand.
 
Whilst the first priority is to use the 45-day consultation to try to convince Young’s to change their closure decision and if this is unsuccessful to find a buyer for the Pinneys site, does the Cabinet Secretary share the concerns of the local community that one of the reasons any job losses would be so disastrous is the fact the fundamental weaknesses in the local economy in terms of poor infrastructure, the lowest pay in Scotland, and few large employers have not been tackled and those weaknesses are now coming back to haunt us?”
 
In response Business Minister Paul Wheelhouse said:
 
“Absolutely, I do identify with that latter point that Colin Smyth has mentioned.
 
We are clearly taking forward proposal for a South of Scotland Enterprise Agency and that is medium to long term mission to try and transform the economy of the South.
 
In the immediate period we have a more sever challenge in the context of Annan if all 450 permanent jobs were to be lost and indeed the seasonal jobs in the October to December period which is the peak period of production, would have very significant consequences for the area were that to happen.
 
One of the virtues of having the action group is to not just look at the specifics around the particular impact of the plant closure but also look to see if there is anything outwith this process where we can try and do something to strengthen the economy in Annan…..
 
We know that the vast majority of staff are concentrated within a 10 mile radius therefore we know job losses on that scale will have huge impact on Annan.”
 
After the exchange in Parliament, Mr Smyth said:
 
“I will be meeting the Chief Executive of Young’s Seafood on Thursday (19 April) because the immediate priority is to try to convince Young’s to reverse their plans to close the factory or to find a buyer but we also need to accept that the reason the closure would be so devastating is the fact there are few alternative employment opportunities to absorb so many job losses. Whilst it was reassuring that the Minister acknowledges the long term economic challenges facing Annan, what we need to see is solutions. That means more investment in tackling our poor infrastructure, building the skills level in the area and ensuring that adequate support is in place to grow and attract businesses or we will always be vulnerable to a closure of the scale of Pinneys.  

Workplace at odds over mental health

Research from CABA suggests that Brits are under significant workplace strain, with more than 1 in 3 (36%) confessing they think about quitting their position on a regular basis.  The study revealed that 13% of employees are resorting to pulling a sickie to cope with stress, with the same (13%) admitting to feeling stressed at least once a day.
 
According to the research, employers overwhelmingly agree that taking a sick day for mental ill health is completely acceptable. The findings revealed that 94% of HRs believe depression or anxiety is an adequate reason to call in sick, and over (80%) believe that workplace stress is also a legitimate reason for a sick day.
 
In contrast, employees were reticent to admit taking time off due to workplace pressures and believed it was not an acceptable reason to call in sick. The research showed that only 13% of employees had called in sick due to feelings of stress, with 10% admitting that they did not want to face up to their workload. As a result of the findings, CABA is calling for anyone who is struggling with stress or concerned about a family member or friends to seek advice.
 
Laura Little, Learning and Development Manager at CABA commented:
 
‘1 in 4 people experience a mental health issue every year, so it is reassuring to learn that HRs agree stress, depression and anxiety are all valid reasons for employees to call in sick. It’s extremely important for businesses to promote a supportive, non-judgmental ethos to encourage employees to take time off if they need it, and most importantly encouraging conversation if people are struggling. Our research shows that 80% of HRs agree that physical symptoms such as back or joint pain is an acceptable reason to call in sick, so it is a step in the right direction that mental ill health is being recognised in the same way.’
 
Positively, the research showed that over half of working Brits (57%) would tell someone at work if they thought they were suffering from stress, anxiety or depression, with their line manager or supervisor (25%) the most likely go-to person.
 
However, nearly a third (32%) would keep quiet, preferring not to let anyone know. Over 55s (40%) were the most likely not to tell anyone, compared to 18% of 25-34 year olds, highlighting that millennials are more open to discussions about their emotional wellbeing.
 
Laura Little concluded:
 
‘Mental ill health can have a profound effect on an employee’s ability to do their job. It can affect motivation, performance and relationships at work. The impact can be lessened by taking preventive measures to mitigate the risk of triggering such feelings and by putting support systems into place such as team meetings or one-to-ones. Setting an example from the top gives a clear message that mental health is an integral part of everyone’s wellbeing. We often take physical illness symptoms seriously so it is great to see mental ill health being treated equally, however if employees continue to keep quiet about their worries we will find ourselves in a vicious cycle. Therefore, action is needed to spread the supportive message, to ensure everyone is on the same page when it comes to stress.’

STRANRAER OYSTER FESTIVAL WANTS YOUR VOTE TO WIN NATIONAL LOTTERY FUNDING

A local community group in Stranraer is calling for your vote to secure £50,000 of National Lottery funding as part of this year’s People’s Projects. STRANRAER OYSTER FESTIVAL  is one of five groups in the borders in the running for a share of up to £150,000 of funding.

The FESTIVAL is a three-day event celebrating  the only wild and  native Oyster beds in the UK.  We are delighted to welcome this opportunity to attract additional funding to promote the areas unique coastal heritage, its culture, its people and its local produce.

Now in its 13th year, the Big Lottery Fund, STV and The National Lottery are teaming up to give the public a chance to decide how National Lottery funding should be put to good use in their own local area.

Designed to celebrate some of the incredible projects the Big Lottery Fund has supported over the past year, 95 community-based schemes are now shortlisted across the UK.

In each region, the three projects with the most public votes will receive grants of up to £50,000. This will help them to continue their work and  to improve the quality of life for many within their communities. The entire amount up for grabs across the UK is a life-changing £3 million.  

VOTING BEGINS ON MONDAY 16TH  APRIL AND LASTS UNTIL MONDAY 30TH APRIL.

On Thursday the 19th of April 2018 at 6pm The Stranraer Development Trust will be showcasing its project The STRANRAER OYSTER FESTIVAL on STV Border News. To be in with a chance of winning, Stranraer Development Trust, organisers of the FESTIVAL, is calling on viewers, and indeed the entire community to support its bid. They can do this from 9AM ON MONDAY 16TH APRIL in a number of ways:

-- ON LINE- by going directly to www.thepeoplesprojects.org.uk where they can watch our video and follow the link to register their vote there.

--  BY POSTAL VOTE. Postcards will be available in local shops, hotels, cafes and B & B's. Filling in the postal vote couldn't be easier and, as it's Freepost, it won't even require a stamp!

--DIRECT CONTACT WITH AN OYSTER FESTIVAL REPRESENTITIVE- who will be in the town centre between 16th- and 30th of April. Please look out for our volunteers in blue t-shirts.

Last year’s event was a huge success with over 10,000 people attending the three-day event. This year, the interest already from stall holders and performers and visitors has been overwhelming and The Trust have plans to make this year’s event even better again. An economic impact report estimates that the Festival helped secure 5 local jobs in tourism, ploughed over £511,000 into the local economy where there wasn't a bed available within a 24-mile radius on the weekend of the event.  

If successful, The Stranraer Development Trust will:

Facilitate the running of STRANRAER OYSTER FESTIVAL 2018 with events throughout the weekend for all to enjoy and benefit from, raise awareness of the unique heritage of our region, provide volunteering opportunities for people of all ages in our area and ensure opportunities for local businesses to promote their produce and services.

Romano Petrucci, Chairman, for The Stranraer Development Trust, said: " We are very fortunate to find ourselves in this position. A lot of work has gone into us being short listed for this incredible funding opportunity. The Board realise that and, given the quite amazing level of support they have been given locally with anything and everything they do, are very confident that the local community will make that small but critically important effort to make sure they cast their vote. Being through to this final stage is all good news, but the truth is that if the local community do not take this chance to vote and show their support, we will not get this funding boost to the Festival. We all know how wonderful the inaugural event was- with your vote and support we give you our assurance that this year will be bigger and better still. 

Joe Ferns, UK Funding Director of the Big Lottery Fund, said: “As the largest funder of community activity in the UK, we are proud to support grassroots groups that are using the vision, determination and drive of local people to strengthen communities. The People’s Projects showcases the best of these and is a chance for you to have your say on how National Lottery funding can benefit your local community.”

Since 2005, around £39 million has been awarded through the Big Lottery Fund, National Lottery and ITV/STV partnership to 865 Good Causes across the UK.

Voting closes at midday on Monday 30 April 2018. People can vote once per region and will need an email address to vote on line, otherwise you can vote via postcard. To support the Stranraer Oyster Festival and for Terms and conditions please visit www.thepeoplesprojects.org.uk

LOCAL POLITICIANS TO HOST SPECIAL DROP IN MEETING AND ADVICE SURGERY FOR PINNEYS WORKERS

South Scotland MSP Colin Smyth, Annandale South Councillor Sean Marshall and Annandale East and Eskdale Councillor Archie Dryburgh will be hosting a special drop in meeting and Advice Surgery in Annan on Friday 13 April for Pinneys of Annan workers and local residents.

The event is being held in partnership with Kate’s Kitchen, Bank Street, Annan and will run from 5.30pm to 7pm (or later if required). It will provide Pinneys workers and local residents with the chance to be updated by the local politicians on discussions they have had with Youngs Seafood, Government Ministers and other agencies. More importantly it will give staff and residents an opportunity to raise in groups or individually with the politicians any issues they have.

In addition, Colin, Sean and Archie are also holding a series of surgeries across Annandale and Eskdale earlier that day for those who can’t attend the special drop in event in Annan.

Those other Advice Surgeries will be held in

Langholm Town Hall – 12pm-12.45pm

Canonbie Public Hall – 1pm-1.45pm

Gretna Richard Greenhow Centre – 2pm-2.45pm

Annan Swimming Pool – 3pm-3.45pm

Eastriggs Nelson House – 4pm-4.45pm

All surgeries are open to anyone and no appointment is needed.

Colin Smyth MSP said, “I have been inundated by residents from Annan and beyond who are upset, angry and confused about the closure plans for Pinneys. That is why we have arranged this special drop in meeting and advice surgeries. It will allow people affected to come forward and raise any issues they want, either individually in private or in groups. It will also be an opportunity to update people on the discussions we have had with the company, trade unions, Government Ministers and other agencies. More importantly it will be a chance for Pinneys’ workers and local residents to share their views with us, so we can make sure their voices are heard when we have further discussions”

Councillor Sean Marshall said, “We’ve had a number of discussion with the company and Government and these will continue in the weeks ahead, including a meeting with Young’s Seafood Chief Executive next week. So we are asking people to come forward to share their views and also give us any questions they would like us pose to the company or Government. Whether it is workers, partners or anyone affected by the closure, we would urge people to come along to the drop in or get in touch at any time if they have any concerns or issues they want to raise”.

Councillor Archie Dryburgh said, “Although most workers at Pinneys live in Annan, we are conscious that a large number live in neighbouring towns, so people living in and around Langholm, Canonbie, Gretna and Eastriggs can pop in to speak to us at our surgeries in those towns earlier in the day or can get in touch with us at any time. The closure of Pinneys will have massive impact on Annan but also people living right across the area.”