The chief executive of Emtelle has caused uproar by warning Hawick workers that a Yes vote in the referendum could threaten their jobs.
Employees at the Haughhead pipe manufacturing plant received a letter from the Danish group boss this week stating that he felt “duty bound” to inform them of his concerns about the outcome of the vote – and among a list of consequences in light of independence, he warned that the company could move to England. Mr Mads Hogfeldt stated: “I am concerned that a Yes vote would create major uncertainty for Emtelle as a business.”
He wrote that such uncertainties include the unknown reaction of customers across the UK, the lack of an agreed policy on currency, and uncertainty on membership of the European Union (EU).
And while admitting that no dramatic changes would be imminent, staff were left in no doubt about the company’s situation pending a Yes result.
Mr Hogfeldt added: “I would be failing in my duty if I did not tell you that I do have concerns about the longer term implications of a Yes vote.”
And in the event of independence, the chief executive said they would consider suspending future capital investment, transferring the UK head office and company address to England, and, depending on the reaction from England-based customers, addded: “Next steps could be to look for a suitable manufacturing location south of the border.”
But the letter of forewarning has not been well-received by some of the local workforce, one Emtelle source, who, fearing repercussions, did not want to be named, told the Hawick News: “This is a bit of a joke to be honest. And it hasn’t gone down well at all. This is intimidation and not acceptable for someone in this position to attempt to influence our democratic right to vote whatever they want. I’m sure the majority of folk will ignore this and vote they way they want to without any intereference.”
Another worker told us: “There’s nothing like trying to intimidate the workforce.”
But signing off, Mr Hogfeldt apologised for “interfering” in the debate, and added: “I genuinly do regret mixing politics and business.”