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EDITIONS
Friday, 24 May, 2002, 15:48 GMT 16:48 UK
No relocation for cut workers
The day after a south Wales factory announced it was cutting 435 jobs, the situation worsened as all workers were told they will not be offered jobs elsewhere in the company.

Swansea manufacturers Dewhirst, which makes trousers and skirts for Marks and Spencer, is moving production to cheaper sites abroad.

Marks & Spencer
The firm supplies Marks & Spencer

The company said that high street prices are so cheap that the Fforestfach factory has been losing money for 18 months, and would be closed by August.

Swansea Council will hold a meeting with the company and other agencies next week.

Dewhirst, which is the third largest manufacturing employer in the Swansea area, has laid off hundreds of workers at its Welsh plants in recent years.

Three hundred jobs went in Ystalyfera when that factory closed in 1998.

A further 165 jobs were lost when the Lampeter plant shut last year.

The firm will now switch production to its factories in either Morocco, Turkey or Malaysia.

Some of those soon to be left jobless have said they are "devastated," according to union sources.

'Price pressure'

The firm has been hit by M&S's turbulent fortunes which, ironically, now appear to be on the up again.

In a statement issued on Thursday, Dewhirst blamed the move on a loss of profits due to "continued consumer pressure on prices".

Dai Lloyd AM and councillor, Plaid Cymru
Dai Lloyd is a GP in the plant's Fforestfach home

Up to a further 20 supporting jobs will be going elsewhere within the division.

Dewhirst's two other factories in Cardigan and Fishguard, which employ around 250 workers, will not be affected by the announcement.

UK Chancellor Gordon Brown told BBC Radio Wales that the loss of jobs was a "personal tragedy for those people affected."

But Plaid Cymru's health spokesman Dai Lloyd - a Fforestfach councillor - was critical of that response.

"Unlike south-east England, Wales cannot afford to lose such jobs until we are in a position to develop large scale high-tech companies," he said.

And he described the news from the company as a "hammer blow" for the community.

'Bitter disappointment'

Director of Development for Swansea Council Craig Anderson said: "It is bitterly disappointing coming on the back of last year when we've seen a lot of growth in the local economy in many areas.

Gordon Brown
Gordon Brown said the news was a tragedy

"Dewhirst has been caught in an international trend which is not really of their making.

"Production base costs are competitive - it is a tough business."

Dewhirst is entering a formal 90-day statutory consultation period with the union and the workers, a spokesman said.

Swansea councillors have also pledged to assist workers made redundant in the move back into employment.

In 2000, the company also closed two plants on Teesside and Stoke-in-Trent in England.

On those occasions, Dewhirst was badly affected by the decision by Marks & Spencer to transfer large parts of its clothing production outside the UK.

 WATCH/LISTEN
 ON THIS STORY
Economic Development Minister Andrew Davies
"I am desperately sad for the workers"
Anne Pennock, GMB union
"Ladies textiles have all gone abroad"
Lilian Hopkins, councillor
"Clothing in Fforestfach is finished"
Dewhirst workers
"I won't find a job like this again"
BBC Wales's Rebecca John
"The bad news was still sinking in as staff arrived for work"


Seeking the spark

Analysis

Where I Live, South West Wales
See also:

23 May 02 | Wales
11 Jan 01 | Business
13 Jan 00 | Business
26 Nov 98 | Business
28 Jan 00 | Wales
10 Sep 99 | Wales
12 Dec 01 | South Asia
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