THE Scottish Government went “sleepwalking” into the the Kaiam collapse that cost 300 workers their jobs before Christmas, an MSP has claimed.

Labour’s Jackie Baillie accused ministers of failing to make the same effort for employees at the West Lothian computer component factory as for those at the Michelin tyre plant in Dundee.

But appearing before the Economy, Energy and Fair Work Committee at the Scottish Parliament, Finance Secretary Derek Mackay and Business Minister Jamie Hepburn rejected that claim.

Hepburn said the French tyre giant was “willing to engage” over the future of its Scots workers, adding: “That was not the same with Kaiam.

“The situations were rather different.”

More than 300 Kaiam staff were given the axe on Christmas Eve. They were not paid and are still awaiting redundancy cash.

The local community supported those affected during the festive period with food packages and gifts.

A jobs fair will take place in Bathgate on January 17 to help former staff secure new positions.

However, the plant’s future is not yet sealed, with more than 20 expressions of interested lodged with administrators KPMG.

Executives at Kaiam have not been available for comment, but chief executive Bardia Pezeshki – who flew to the US hours before the company collapsed – told the Sunday Post newspaper he “may have made mistakes” but is not a “coward or a criminal”.

That comment follows questions about an £850,000 funding package from development agency Scottish Enterprise in 2014.

Yesterday Hepburn told the panel there had been “no suggestion” that staff would not receive their December wages until one day before Kaiam entered administration.

Baillie said it appeared that the Scottish Government had been “sleepwalking and trusting Kaiam and it results in workers going without pay on Christmas Eve”.

Comparing the situation to that of Dundee’s tyre factory, she added: “Michelin in Dundee saw the Cabinet Secretary get on a plan to go to Paris to try and resolve this. “

However, Mackay countered that Michelin was “ethical” and “committed” to the Tayside city, stating: “Michelin is an example where there was clear opportunity for ministerial involvement.”

Former Social Security Secretary Angela Constance, whose Almond Valley constituents include ex-Kaiam staff, called for answers over the awarding of the Scottish Enterprise cash.

Saying that Kaiam had been “persistently late” in filing its accounts and had not shown a profit since 2012, Constance asked if due diligence had been carried out before committing public money.

Stating that the money had been awarded on the grounds of securing jobs until 2021, she said lay-offs had nevertheless been made within months, stating: “We weren’t even out of 2014 the company was actually doing the exact opposite of what they were given that money for in the first place.”

Following the session, Constance praised the community for supporting Kaiam staff, adding that news of potential buyers was “very welcome”.