Last week the flood hit town of Hawick in the Scottish Borders was dealt another devastating blow as 123 people were laid off from the iconic Hawick Knitwear. The firm, which traces its roots back 140 years, has now gone into administration and a frantic effort is underway to find a buyer and save the remaining 56 jobs.
But I can’t help wondering whether the right buyer might be the workers themselves and indeed the wider community. Employee buyouts and particularly community buyouts are increasingly common. Often funded through a mix of local fundraising, the sale of shares and grants from local and national funding bodies, such buyouts put control of local assets firmly in the hands of local people.
And who better to steer the company through turbulent times than the folk who’ve worked to build it and sustain it?
The Scottish Green Party has campaigned for such buyouts to become easier and more common and we were successful in steering the SNP Government towards improving their Community Empowerment Bill on these very issues. It is my hope that these ideas can swiftly be put into action by the people of Hawick and I offer my support in securing a bright future for the Hawick Knitwear and its workers.