In the first meeting of the Scottish Parliament following the news that Hawick Knitwear has gone into administration, local MSP John Lamont has urged the Business and Enterprise Minister, Fergus Ewing MSP, to set up a specialist task force to support the textiles industry in the town.
Last Thursday’s news resulted in the loss of 123 jobs with 56 further jobs under threat. The Scottish Government has set up dedicated task forces when major employers have gone bust in the past, most notably for steel firm Tata and Fife-based paper maker Tullis Russell. Although the number of jobs losses at both of these companies was greater, the town’s MSP John Lamont has said that the effect of the loss of over 120 jobs to a town the size of Hawick is proportionally as significant as the news over Tata Steel.
At Topical Question Time in the Scottish Parliament, today (Tuesday), Mr Lamont also called for this Friday’s PACE event to provide assistance to his constituents who are struggling with the online application process contained in their redundancy packs.
In response, the Minister said he was “open minded” about whether a task force was required and that the Government would take a short while to consider whether this was appropriate. The Minister also agreed to ensure that adequate support was provided to those having difficulty filling in their online forms.
Mr Lamont said: “The Scottish Government have taken all the usual steps to provide support to those who have lost their jobs in Hawick and the Minister has been constructive with me over the last few days.
“When large employers have gone bust elsewhere in Scotland, the Scottish Government has been quick to set up a specialised task force to support those in the wider economy. Because Hawick has experienced slightly fewer job losses, my concern is that the Scottish Government is not giving this the same priority.
“The reality is that the loss of over 120 jobs in a town the size of Hawick is as catastrophic as other recent closures across Scotland, which is why a Task Force for the textiles industry in Hawick is now needed.
“I am pleased that the Minister appears to be considering a Task Force for Hawick following my question today. I will continue to press for Hawick to receive the support it needs and deserves from the Scottish Government.”