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EDITIONS
Monday, 22 July, 2002, 11:56 GMT 12:56 UK
Clothing workers hold factory talks
Managers from Dewhirst have met staff at their Fishguard factory but have not been able to give them any reassurance about the future of their jobs.

Last Thursday, the company announced it was ending production of jeans for Marks & Spencer at the Cardigan plant with the loss of 325 jobs by November.

Marks & Spencer
The firm supplies Marks & Spencer

Fishguard, which employs 120 people, will then be Dewhirst's only plant in Wales.

It depends on the Cardigan plant for cutting its material as part of the production process.

The closure of the Cardigan plant means new facilities would need to be introduced at Fishguard if work there is to continue.

Dewhirst told the staff it would consider the cost of this during the annual two-week factory shutdown, which begins next Monday.

Workers said they were worried the end will come sooner rather than later.

The Welsh Assembly Government has admitted it cannot intervene to prevent Dewhirst's latest closure.

Community leaders have urged measures to minimise the impact of the job losses in the region, which is heavily dependent on the plant.

Dewhirst cut 435 jobs at its Swansea plant in May, moving production to Morocco.

Cardigan town centre
The job losses will hit Cardigan

It was announced on Thursday that a 90-day consultation period about the Cardigan factory closure would begin on 12 August.

The company said it "regretted" the decision and blamed "continued consumer pressure on prices".

Ceredigion MP Simon Thomas said the news was a "huge shock" and he likened the impact of the job losses to the decline of the south Wales steel industry.

He said the firm had post profits of 23m last year and claimed the move abroad was an attempt to make more money.

Dewhirst's trading position worsened this spring when it was revealed deflated high street prices meant the manufacturer had been steadily losing money for more than 18 months.

Workers at the Swansea plant at Fforestfach, which is due to close in August, were told in May there was opportunity for relocating jobs.

Dewhirst is switching production at Swansea of trousers and skirts for M&S to overseas factories.

Turbulent times

The company has been cutting its UK workforce since 1998, when 300 jobs were lost at its Ystalyfera factory near Swansea.

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

Dewhirst's own prospects have been closely linked to those of M&S which has experienced a turbulent period in the past two years.

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

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 ON THIS STORY
BBC Wales's Hywel Griffiths
"Dewhirst workers arrived today knowing they will soon be out of a job"


Seeking the spark

Analysis

Where I Live, South West Wales
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