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Wednesday, 25 July, 2001, 11:18 GMT 12:18 UK
Plea for textiles aid
Listers Mill
Listers Mill: No short-term recovery
A union official has called for more government aid for the textile industry following a decision to call in the receivers at Bradford's biggest wool mill.

More than 600 people could lose their jobs at W and J Whitehead, one of only two remaining wool-combers in the UK.

A spokesman said the company could no longer continue because of the strong pound, the manufacturing recession in America and increasing imports.

Nick Halton, a regional spokesman for the Transport and General Workers' Union, said it was the latest in a series of textile factory closures in West Yorkshire.

'Forgotten industry'

"The textile industry seems to be forgotten. When Rover and BMW were in trouble the government stepped in and helped them out.

"Around three times as many jobs in the textile industry have been lost in that time."

Mr Halton is concerned for the future of the numerous textile workers who come from ethnic minorities or are aged in their 40s and 50s.

"A lot of people have come into this country as textile workers. It's their skill and they may not be able to adapt to another job.

Minimum wage

"And where I go, there's a lot of people with long service at one company or within the industry - going from factory to factory.

"They've been in the trade since leaving school."

Workers at W and J Whitehead have been on "short time" - working a month on and a month off - since March.

Mr Halton said many were on the minimum wage and the introduction of a national minimum wage in October may be one cause of the business's problems.

In a statement, the company said it would do everthing it could for its employees but that "a detailed review of our trading position has indicated that there wil be no recovery in the short term."

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See also:

24 Jul 01 | Business
600 textiles jobs in doubt
02 Jun 00 | Scotland
Union anger over mill jobs
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