WORKERS are back at the Michelin tyre factory in Dundee today as efforts continue to prevent its closure with the loss of nearly 850 jobs, and after it emerged they had been kept in the dark about the shutdown plan for almost a month.

Scottish Enterprise chief executive, Steve Dunlop, will chair an action group set up to produce potential options for the plant, which include its “repurposing”.

READ MORE: Michelin say Economy Secretary has till end of month to save factory

It will also consider a two-year viability plan drawn up by the union Unite after the company announced production wold be cut due to deteriorating market conditions in Europe.

Michelin blamed the closure on an influx of cheap tyres from Asia and lower demand for smaller, premium tyres.

READ MORE: Anger as Michelin factory workers discover closure through online leak

However, it became clear yesterday that Michelin had decided on October 9 that the factory – one of the company’s most advanced – would close.

Finance Secretary Derek Mackay knew about the closure a week ago and travelled to Paris to meet Michelin bosses on Sunday. They agreed to hear his rescue plan by the end of the month.

The company confirmed on Tuesday that the factory will close by mid-2020.

Mackay told BBC Good Morning Scotland: “I still have hope, and I want to give some hope to the people of Dundee and the Tayside region.

“My priority is to maintain the factory but if we can’t do that can we repurpose the factory, diversify the factory, so that we can save as many jobs as possible? And that’s why I’ve reached out to the company, to trade unions and local authorities and, crucially, the UK Government.”

In September, Unite officials started work on a viability plan after Michelin decided to reduce production.

They believed they were to sign off this plan when they met management on Tuesday, but instead they were given the shock news.

In a statement, the union said: “Unite had no prior knowledge to the company’s announcement. The flexibility agreement proposes a potential two-phase plan, which would be monitored on an annual basis.

“In the first year (2018/19), the plan would have seen the workforce voluntarily reduce by a number of jobs and a move to a different production regime of four set shifts. The current shift pattern is five-set shift rotation on a monthly basis. In year two (2019/20), if market conditions had not improved, then Unite’s plan included an option of further voluntary redundancies and a move to a three-set shift pattern.

“The flexibility agreement plan ensured no reduction in terms and conditions over this period for the remaining workforce. At the end of this period, Unite and the company would re-assess the market situation.”

The city was still in shock yesterday, with some workers bitter at being “sold down the river”.

One former employee is ex-MP turned broadcaster George Galloway, who said: “In the 1970s I was an engineering worker with Michelin Tyres in Dundee. Well paid unionised three-shift work in which we took pride in the product … The Government and the Scottish Government must take action to save the factory. It’s a tremendous blow to the city and to the industrial base in Scotland.”