The company at the centre of last Tuesday’s factory explosion in Glasgow
suffered a ‘mini-9/11’, but is determined to survive, its chairman said.
Campbell Downie, the semi-retired chairman of ICL Plastics, told Personnel
Today in an exclusive interview that he is devastated by the accident, which
killed nine people and injured more than 30 others.
"This has been a mini-9/11 for us," he said. "It’s something
you don’t expect, something you never think will happen."
Many of those killed – including the chief executive and financial officer –
were in a training and management meeting when the explosion happened.
Investigators are still trying to determine the cause of the blast.
Downie said his priority is to care for survivors and families who have lost
loved ones, but he and his wife Lorna Downie, the firm’s personnel officer, are
also addressing the company’s needs.
Despite the loss of almost half the board, he says ICL’s staff, its strong
relationship with suppliers, and multiple manufacturing sites will help it pull
The firm employs 110 people across four sites in Glasgow, Edinburgh and
Newcastle. It prides itself on the quality and flexibility of its workforce.
"People are multi-disciplined here – they can turn their hand to a number
of tasks. We’re really having to rely on that right now," Downie said.
Production normally carried out in Glasgow is being farmed out to the
subsidiary companies in Edinburgh and Newcastle.
Because records were lost in the explosion, tasks such as payroll are
temporarily being carried out by the company’s bank. The company expects its
administration department to be functioning this week.
Goodwill is also playing its part, with suppliers offering the services of
their own staff. Former directors have also volunteered to help out.
The company’s spirit is epitomised in the struggle of director John Turner,
who lost both his legs in the accident.
"All he wants to do is help others involved," said Downie. "I
think that’s incredible, but that’s what we all want to do now."