Job fears as Leven firm looks towards Germany

Mark Goldsmith
Mark Goldsmith

Fears are enveloping the future of Leven’s Pfaudler-Balfour firm, amid news it may transfer a significant proportion of its work to Germany.

The engineering giant, which provides equipment for the pharmaceutical industry, has declared there is no intention to close the local plant, which employs 128 people and is the oldest engineering firm in Leven.

The Pfaudler plant at Leven, and general manager Mark Goldsmith

The Pfaudler plant at Leven, and general manager Mark Goldsmith

In fact, it says there are further plans to grow work at the Riverside Road premises.

However, in a bid to address changing market needs and boost efficiency. it was planned to move new vessel work from Leven to Germany.

A “collective consultation process with employee representatives at Leven” would take place to discuss the proposal before a decision was reached, said the firm.

The GMB Scotland trade union said redundancies would result from the move, which would represent another severe blow to the engineering industry in Fife if it went ahead.

In a statement, the company said: “The Pfaudler Group has been reviewing changes to its European manufacturing footprint in order to address the changing needs of the market and to maximise the efficiencies of scale and resources.

“This is necessary to justify the future capital investments required to maintain our position in providing the highest technology and quality products to our customers.

“As part of this review, the Group has been looking at developing a global manufacturing strategy which better aligns our business to our targeted customers, markets and the highly competitive environment.

“The proposal being put forward is that new vessel work currently undertaken at Leven be transferred to Germany.

“We wish to make it very clear it is not proposed that the Leven site is closed and, in fact, the proposal is that we grow the Edlon, Engineering Services and Reglass work at Leven.

“We will be carrying out a collective consultation process with employee representatives at Leven to discuss the proposal before a decision is made.”

It’s understood the consultation will begin on Tuesday next week.

Alan Ritchie, an organiser with the GMB Scotland union, said talks had taken place with shop stewards at the plant last night (Monday) but claimed union officials “were not being told the full story”.

There would be redundancies if the plan went ahead, he added.

“It seems to us that the production levels at Leven are twice as high as in Germany, and the cost base is less, yet the decision is to send work to Germany. There doesn’t seem to be any logic behind that,” said Mr Ritchie.

“We are trying to break down the company’s proposals – it seems they are going to keep the glass part of the business in Leven, but we don’t know whether that’s going to be viable in the long term, or if this is death by 100 cuts.

“There are some major contracts in the pipeline and the Leven plant has been very successful in getting contracts, but new work is being transferred to Germany.”

The Scottish Government, added Mr Ritchie, had to take more responsibility over the manufacturing industry.

Last month, the Pfaudler Group reacted angrily to claims by the union that the Leven premises could close, with its work being shifted to Germany.

General manger Mark Goldsmith said the firm had been irresponsibly used by the union to make a political point – but also said that strategic restructing plans for Europe had been ongoing for almost a year.