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Caithness News Bulletins March 2004

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17 March 04
Caithness Glass To Close At Wick

The receivers for Caithness Glass Deloitte and Touche have announced that the Wick factory is to close with the loss of all 45 jobs.  25 people were given their notice today with another 20 being kept on temporarily for a few days to pack everything up.

Councillor Bill Fernie was at a Social Work committee meeting of Highland council in Inverness when the news was passed to him by area convenor David Flear who had himself been contacted by the press on his way back to Wick from a morning meeting at the Highland council offices.  Both Bill Fernie and David Flear told the press how devastating this was for Wick and especially the employees concerned.  Bill appeared on Grampian TV from Inverness to express his views whilst David Flear issued statements to other press who were in contact.  John Thurso MP whose father helped establish the company in Caithness also appeared on TV to express his disappointment that a buyer could not be found for the Wick factory.  All agreed that meetings would take place to discuss the future.

Following the announcement by receivers Deloitte and Touche - that staff at the Caithness Glass facility in Wick are to be made redundant and that production at the company's Wick factory will be wound down - Caithness and Sutherland Enterprise (CASE) has confirmed that it will do what it can to help staff affected to explore alternative options.

Chief executive of CASE, Carroll Buxton said: "Obviously this is a blow.  However, following an examination of the various parts of the business, the receivers have concluded that this is the course of action they have to take at the current time.

"We understand they have set a closing date of Friday 19th March for the receipt of indicative offers for the business and the long-term situation will become clearer then.

"Our first priority is to assist those staff who are being made redundant via the PACE initiative. This means that CASE, with our partners at Jobcentre Plus and the Highland Council, will offer employees access to a range of practical help in finding new work, training opportunities and advice and assistance with business start-up.

"Caithness Glass is a business with a long history in the far north and this announcement is very disappointing, especially given that Wick has a higher than average unemployment rate.

"We will continue to keep in close contact with the receivers and have reiterated our willingness to meet with interested parties to discuss any potential support that CASE may be able to offer.

"Furthermore, following the conclusion of a sale we will seek to meet with both the new owners of Caithness Glass and the receivers as soon as possible to discuss how the physical assets from the Wick factory can be utilised.

SNP MSP For the Highlands and Islands has expressed his shock, sadness and anger over the news that the Caithness Glass factory in Wick is not to be included in a rescue package.

Mr. Gibson said - "It is galling to believe that the Wick factory has not been chosen to stay open, this announcement is yet another kick in the teeth for Caithness."

"This is a sad day for Wick and for the county of Caithness and we have every sympathy with the workforce in Wick. The SNP have been working hard behind the scenes to try and secure a deal to save all parts of Caithness Glass and today's news comes a bitter blow."

He went onto say... "CASE should ensure that the excellent workforce at Wick be re-trained to help them to the full. Also CASE should review previous support packages and arrangements for the Wick factory to learn any lessons that emerge for the future".