Pfaudler Balfour hit back at union claim over future of Leven site

A meeting is due to take place this week to consider the future of the Pfaudler Balfour plant in Leven.
A meeting is due to take place this week to consider the future of the Pfaudler Balfour plant in Leven.

Pfaudler Balfour has reacted angrily to a union’s claim that Leven’s oldest engineering company could be closed and its work moved to Germany.

Mark Goldsmith, Pfaudler Balfour general manager, said there was no truth in a statement made yesterday (Monday) by the engineering union GMB Scotland that a board meeting would be taking place in Germany later this week to consider whether manufacturing should be brought together in a single plant, which could be either in Germany or Leven.

“There is no truth in that at all,” said Mr Goldsmith.

But he also said that strategic restructuring plans for Europe had been ongoing for almost a year and the company had been working closely with Fife Council and Scottish Enterprise.

“The union haven’t even spoken to me,” Mr Goldsmith said. “We have been used to make a political point.”

He accused the union of making its statement without checking the facts and described its actions as irresponsible considering the impact it would have on the 200-year-old Leven plant’s 128 employees and their families, as well as customers and suppliers.

However, GMB Scotland this morning (Tuesday) did not back down from its claims that the future of the Leven site was in danger.

Gary Smith, GMB Scotland’s acting regional secretary, completely rebutted Mr Goldsmith’s denial.

He said: “We have a real fear that the workers in Scotland will be fired because they’re cheaper and they have fewer redundancy rights.

“German Unions will be presenting a case on Wednesday about the future of their plant.”

Balfour’s, as it has always been known locally, has a history going back more than 200 years.

The operation in Leven began in 1810 as Henry Balfour & Co Ltd, engineers and iron founders, and over the year Balfour’s established a reputation in a number of engineering fields, including brewery equipment, specialist fabrication, sterilisers and drying and evaporation plant.

In 1933 it entered a joint venture with the US company Pfaudler to manufacture glass-lined vessels at Leven and in 1962 the US business bought Balfour’s.

Twenty years later, Balfour’s was acquired by the Standard Oil Co (Ohio) to concentrate on glassed-steel manufacture under the new name of Pfaudler-Balfour Ltd.

In 1994, the company was bought by Robbins & Myers Inc and became part of the Pfaudler Group (Worldwide) and the following year, following the acquisition of glassed-steel competitor Cannon Process Equipment Ltd, the UK group became known as Robbins & Myers UK Ltd.