THERE are fears of job losses at a Gourock engineering firm just weeks before Christmas.

James Walker Devol has announced that a consultation has started over redundancies at the Faulds Park site.

Bosses says the move is due to a downturn in the market and drop in demand for products and services.

Manufacturing director Peter Hall said: “Due to the continuing low price of oil and the slowdown in some key industry sectors, like many manufacturing businesses, James Walker Devol Engineering is experiencing order levels incompatible with its current configuration. 

“The current downturn is not expected to reverse for the foreseeable future and to secure the long term viability of the business, management has announced a review of operations at the Gourock site in an attempt to better align capacity and business overheads with the current and forecasted level of demand for its products and services.

“A formal consultation has commenced with regards to potential redundancies, however, all possible options are being considered, including a review of staffing levels, shift patterns and structures.”

Inverclyde Council leader Stephen McCabe has contacted the firm to assess the situation and establish if anything can be done to avoid lay offs.

Mr McCabe told the Telegraph: “This will be an enormously worrying time for the employees at Devol.

“We have been in touch with the company to get a clear view of what is happening. We would hope that the company would reconsider their position, but should the proposal be agreed, we have let them know that we would offer to support any employees affected.

“Although the national PACE [Partnership Action for Continuing Employment] arrangements have not formally been requested yet we have alerted our national partners to the situation.”

Devol bosses say they cannot confirm numbers or a timescale for any job losses.

The firm, formerly known as Devol Engineering Ltd, makes components for oil, gas, rail, mining, quarrying and construction vehicle industries in more than 100 countries.

Mr Hall said the company, which employs around 100 people, had no other option but to consider redundancies in the present economic climate.

He said: “The business appreciates this will be a difficult period of uncertainty for employees but given the economic situation and the outlook for the foreseeable future, it is a situation that could not be avoided.

“Taking such action now is essential in order to realign the business capacity to current order levels and thereby secure the long term future of the business.”

A spokesman for union Unite said they were doing all they can to protect the interests of workers.

He said: “We realise this is a difficult and stressful time for our members at James Walker Devol.

“At every stage in our talks with the company we will be working hard to protect the interests of our members and to make sure that their employment rights are fully respected.”