The South Scotland member wrote to the Groceries Code Adjudicator (GCA) asking her to investigate events behind Young’s closure threat.
She asked Christine Tacon to investigate workers’ concerns that a “mutually convenient deal” was reached between Young’s and Marks and Spencer’s – which resulted in Pinneys being earmarked for closure.
And she raised concerns about arrangements where factories have only one customer – making workers and communities very vulnerable.
The MSP urged Ms Tacon to “Stand up for Pinneys” in the same way as the adjudicator previously defended dairy farmers being squeezed by the supermarkets.
The Groceries Code Adjudicator is an independent regulator set up by the UK Government tasked with ensuring that the 10 big UK supermarkets “Treat their direct suppliers lawfully and fairly”.
Commenting Ms McAlpine said:
“I know that the UK Groceries Regulator has in the past spoken out against bad practice and stood up for farmers when supermarkets squeezed their margins. I am asking them to now stand up for Pinneys workers in Scotland.
“Young’s and M&S are both UK companies who have carefully crafted public images. In the case of Marks and Spencer, ethical treatment of communities and suppliers is promised in their “Plan A” approach to corporate behaviour. Many of my constituents feel that – even though both companies deny an exclusivity arrangement was in place – they have still failed in their social responsibility towards the people of Annan who have worked so hard for them both for many years.”
Explaining the background to her letter to Ms Tacon, Ms McAlpine said:
“Pinneys’ closure was triggered by Young’s moving its natural salmon contract to Grimsby, where it gained an additional two Marks and Spencer contracts. At the same time, it voluntarily gave up its Marks and Spencer deli and prepared meals contracts produced at Pinneys. Both companies have said they wish to concentrate production, so this suits them both.
I have told Ms Tacon that my constituents are very much of the view that these two large companies have reached a mutually convenient deal – with little thought for the devastating consequences in Annan. These remain allegations so I hope she can get to the truth. I hope she will investigate that.
The SNP MSP added:
“I continue to talk to those on the ground at Pinneys, including union reps, and am fully backing their efforts to get enhanced redundancy for workers should the worst happen.”