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Monday, November 1, 1999 Published at 13:58 GMT

UK: Wales

Baird workers offered training advice

Baird Clothing is one of Marks and Spencer's main suppliers

Business advisors in west Wales have visited the troubled Baird clothing company to offer advice for workers facing redundancy.

The team from West Wales Training Enterprise Council met with staff at the Bairdwear Clothing factory in Pontardawe to explain individual aid packages.

Companies last week were offered money to take on 300 Baird workers who are set to lose their jobs.

It is part of a TEC scheme to support Baird staff after the loss of the Marks and Spencer contract.

[ image: More than 4,000 jobs are currently under threat]
More than 4,000 jobs are currently under threat
The two factories in Pontardawe and Maesteg were already due for closure when Baird lost the M&S deal, which put five other Welsh plants at risk.

The TEC aid package is part of a new rapid response initiative to major job losses.

Redundant Baird workers will receive job guidance and career development grants.

Union leaders are seeking urgent talks with Marks and Spencer over its decision to sever links with one of its main suppliers in south Wales.

More than 4,000 jobs were put at risk when Marks and Spencer ended its 30-year supply contract with the clothing company William Baird.

Factories in Bargoed, Maesteg, Merthyr, New Tredegar, Pontardawe, Port Talbot and Pyle all supply the high street chain.

The move by Marks and Spencer is part of the company's effort to cut costs.

Factory closures

Over the last 18 months the group has had to close seven of its factories.

The closures happened even though Baird Clothing had sales of 214.3m and underlying profits of 6.9m.

Baird Clothing - employing a total of 8,000 staff around the UK and 13,500 world-wide - makes clothing ranging from children's wear to lingerie and men's trousers.

The company is likely to seek compensation from M&S, on which it relied for 36% of its sales.

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