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Marine / Brae factory closes with 22 temporary job losses

THE FISH industry is striving to keep its workforce going as one mussel operation in Brae closed its doors as a result of the collapse in markets.

Scottish Shellfish Marketing Group ceased operations on Friday laying-off 22 staff with the duration of the shutdown uncertain.

Michael Tait of Shetland Mussels said that the workers were laid-off for a fortnight “initially” owing to the “abrupt” collapse of the restaurant trade.

Tait, who is chairman of Scottish Shellfish Marketing Group, said that the company “did not have much option” but to make the temporary lay offs.

Shetland Mussels managing director Michael Tait, who was this year elected chairman of the Scottish Shellfish Marketing Group
Shetland Mussels managing director Michael Tait.

He added: “Our Brae factory is completely set up to process mussels and scallops for the food service and restaurant trade.

“The unprecedented Covid-19 control measures have led to the orders from these customers collapsing to nearly zero.

“We have no choice but to cease operations at the Brae plant immediately and will lay off our 22 staff, initially for two weeks, while we access the government support which has been recently announced.

“SSMG will work hard to get through this difficult time and hopefully get the Brae plant back up and running as soon as possible, but these are very challenging circumstances for us as they are for most people in the country right now. Our thoughts are with our staff and communities as we try to find a way through this situation.”

He said that SSMG’s factory in Bellshill would remain in operation as its mussel production caters for the retail trade. Its mussels packed in sauce are supplied to supermarkets, whose sales are relatively unaffected.

The group has 19 producer members, the majority based in Shetland. The overall fortunes of the industry would become clearer in time, said Tait.

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