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Tannoy claims Scottish production will continue despite GMB report

Union says MUSIC boss Behringer should "come clean" over his factory plans

Tannoy has refuted claims made before Christmas by worker’s union GMB Scotland that the loudspeaker company has “failed to honour its commitment to relocate to a new site in Scotland”.

Bjorg Agustsdottir, PR specialist for Tannoy’s parent company Music Group, told What Hi-Fi? magazine“The statement from the union is incorrect – nothing has changed in our plans to keep the production of our high-end speakers in Scotland.”

The new controversy comes after eight months of speculation on the future of Tannoy, which employs 70 and chalked up its 90th anniversary last year.

In May 2016, MUSIC Group head Uli Behringer said he was closing the Scottish operation due to cost implications and moving operations to China. In September, following an August-issued GMB report that questioned Behringer’s treatment of the workforce during a proposed consultation period, Tannoy announced a new plan: Behringer said he was considering opening a new plant in Scotland, while developing a new line of speaker products. (Strathclyde Business Park was cited as a possible location for the plant, according to The Scotsman newspaper.)

But a statement issued by GMB Scotland – part of the biggest workers’ union in the UK – asked Tannoy to “come clean for Christmas” over the company’s future in Scotland.

GMB Scotland said the workforce have been urged to sign individual redundancy settlements by Friday 13 January, while plant management have been placed on “gardening leave”. The Coatbridge site – home to Tannoy since the 1970s – will close at the end of March 2017.

GMB Scotland organiser Ude Adigwe said: “Uli Behringer has been leading his workers and the media up the garden path over his real intentions for Tannoy’s Scottish operations.

“The self-styled ‘chief disrupter’ is stonewalling his employees and instead of addressing their concerns demoralised workers now have to forward questions concerning their futures to an HQ call centre in Manila.

“With local management having been effectively routed by Behringer, it looks like the Coatbridge plant is simply being run-down ahead of March with no real prospect of a new site.”

Richard Leonard, MSP, Scottish Labour economy spokesman told The Scotsman in December: “I am concerned at the way the owner in Manila is dealing with simple requests for information from the GMB trade union on behalf of the workforce in Coatbridge.”

When approached in early January 2017 to address the GMB’s concerns, Sarah-Jane Thomson, senior specialist for artist/public relations, said that MUSIC’s September 2016 statement “still stands”: namely, that MUSIC Group “remains committed to Scotland and will continue to build the Tannoy Prestige as well as other high-end loudspeakers in the country”, and that any new factory would “see substantial investment in innovation and production, as well as a museum and show room for the brand’s 90-year heritage”.

Agustsdottir also told What Hi-Fi? in December: “At the upcoming CES [in Las Vegas], we will be showcasing exciting new speakers which will be produced in Scotland.”

In other news, following a 15-month tenure at MUSIC Group, it was announced at the end of 2016 that former Soundcraft/AKG/Studer head Andy Trott has stepped down from his role as senior VP of the manufacturer’s professional division (Klark Teknik, Lab.gruppen, Midas, Tannoy, TC Electronic and Turbosound).