Interest Mounting Over West Lothian Kaiam Plant, MSPs Told
The local community has rallied around former employees of the tech firm, helping to raise thousands of pounds in a matter of weeks.
Business Minister Jamie Hepburn has revealed that administrators for collapsed tech firm Kaiam have received around 20 expressions of interest from potential buyers.
The West Lothian-based optical components manufacturer announced that more than 300 employees were being made redundant on Christmas Eve.
Hepburn’s comments came in response to questions asked by Almond Valley MSP Angela Constance, who suggested the Minister must “condemn outright” the actions of senior staff, which shocked both employees and the local community alike.
“I can say that I discussed the matter with KPMG earlier today, and it has informed me that it has received in excess of 20 expressions of interest from various parties,” Hepburn told MSPs.
“Scottish Enterprise has already, through the administrator, set out what support it may be able to offer any potential buyer,” he added.
Labour MSP Neil Findlay questioned Hepburn over the Scottish Government’s support for the firm in the days and weeks preceding the redundancies, stating: “On five separate occasions prior to December 24, ministers were warned about major problems that threatened pay and jobs at Kaiam.
“That situation ended up with 300 workers with no pay and no job.”
Findlay requested the Minister clarify whether he or the Scottish Government asked the company to inform workers that jobs and pay were at risk.
Hepburn said: “We have done everything in the intervening period to try to support the company and, ultimately, to support its workforce, which we continue to do.”
He added that there had been extensive communication between Scottish Enterprise and the company, however the rapid pace at which the situation unfolded proved difficult to handle.
“The difficulty that we had with this situation is that the circumstances were never the same at any given time,” Hepburn said. “When we were first notified about the matter, it was not about the company closing but about finding a buyer. Thereafter, it was about actions to secure funding and to pursue a sale proposal.”
There has been scarce communication from company executives following the mass-redundancy announcement. Chief Executive Bardia Pezeshki was subject to criticism for flying to the US a matter of hours before the company collapsed.
Pezeshki told the Sunday Post that he “may have made mistakes” in regard to his handling of the situation, but insisted he is not a “coward or a criminal”.
Read more: DIGIT Deal Roundup December 2018
Community volunteers and local council staff helped collect and deliver toys, gift vouchers and food packages for Kaiam employees over the Christmas period.
More than £22,000 has also been raised for families, while a jobs fair in Bathgate will be held on the 17th of January to help former employees secure new positions elsewhere.