Unions hails deal that saved Fife laundry from closure

Hills of Fife advert 1972
Hills of Fife advert 1972

Union leaders have welcomed news there will be no compulsory redundancvies at a Kirkcaldy laundry –and claimed it helped to stop plans for its closure.

Berensden plans to have just a single shift operation at its Randolph Industrial Estate plant, with jobs being moved out of Fife to its new plant in Inchinnan, Renfrewshire.

The laundry has a long history in Fife having begun as Hills of Fife and then becoming New Wave, based in Church Street before moving to the industrial estate.

Union bosses said yesterday that the owners of Berensden had reversed its closure decision after extensive talks with Usdaw.

Stewart Forrest, Usdaw Scottish Divisional Officer says: “We are pleased that the company has decided to keep their Kirkcaldy site open and ensured there are no compulsory redundancies.

‘‘There will be fewer staff working in Kirkcaldy as they move to a single shift operation, with some redeployed to Inchinnan and others have chosen voluntary redundancy.

‘‘We are pleased to have kept the site open, which could have resulted in the loss of 100 jobs to the area. Usdaw continues to support our members, particularly those who have opted for redundancy.”

John Hannett general secretary also hailed it as ‘‘a good result for members.’’

He added: ‘‘Redundancies and closures are very difficult and often traumatic processes to go through, but this shows the benefit of trade union representation in a meaningful consultation. We can’t always get as good a result as this, but we do make a difference and get a better deal for our members.”

Kirkcaldy’s MP, Lesley Laird, also welcomed news that the firm is not be seeking compulsory job losses as part of a downsizing programme.

In correspondence with Ms Laird, the company confirmed the first worker redundancy on January 19, and the last of the changes are expected to be done by the end of February.

Some workers have opted to be redeployed to Inchinnan after talks which involved the union, USDAW.

Ms Laird said: “Initial fears were that over 100 jobs here would be axed as a result of complete closure of the Kirkcaldy laundry but, thankfully, that will not be the case.

“Through talks with USDAW I understand that Berendsen’s decision to drop from a two shifts per day operation to one shift a day will protect the remaining workforce and the commercial interests of the firm going forward.

“This is welcome news, which will go some way to providing reassurance for remaining staff and their families.”

The business will be better known to many as Hills of Fife which was a starts by the Hill family as a domestic laundry and dry cleaning business in Cowdenbeath in 1897.

The name continued well into the 1980s, and, in 1993 Graeme Calder and Scott Sandie, both then directors at Scotland’s largest independent laundry Fisher Services in Cupar, set up their own company, New Wave Laundries, and took it over.

The laundry’s base in Church Street was modernised and expanded before the business relocated to Randolph in 2000.

New Wave were bought out in 2006 by Sunlight which then changed its name to Berendsen which was then bought up by a French company, Ellis, in 2017.