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BBC Wales' Miles Fletcher
"Marks and Spencer's decision has cost as many as 1,000 jobs in Wales"
 real 28k

Monday, 17 January, 2000, 08:07 GMT
Clothing union demo at M&S store

Marks and Spencer graphic The GMB is protesting at M&S cancelling its contracts


Members of the GMB union representing workers in Wales are to demonstrate outside the Marks and Spencer's store in the centre of Cardiff.

They are protesting at job losses in Welsh textile plants following the cancellation of orders from M&S.

Bairdwear announced last week that it is to seek 53m compensation from M&S for the "summary termination" of its contract.

Marks and Spencer's decision to source more of its clothing lines from overseas has already cost as many as 1,000 jobs in Wales.

Factory closures

And when - as now seems inevitable - the five remaining Bairdwear factories close in the spring - that number will climb to 2,000.

The GMB - which represents many of the workers affected - argue that despite its current problems M&S is still highly profitable.

The switch to cheaper overseas suppliers they say is designed to please the city of London at the expense of Britain's domestic clothing industry.

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 supplied the high street chain.

Cost-cutting

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

Over the last 18 months the Bairdwear 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.

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See also:
01 Nov 99 |  Wales
Baird workers offered training advice
17 Nov 99 |  Wales
Union "positive" after Bairdwear meeting
10 Sep 99 |  Wales
Threat to hundreds of jobs

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