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Last Updated: Saturday, 27 January 2007, 14:59 GMT
Burberry demo despite 1m offer
Delyth Barratt, 16, from Blaenrhondda, at the protest in London
Workers and families protested in London on Saturday
Burberry workers have mounted another protest outside the designer clothing firm's London stores as they fight to save 300 jobs in south Wales.

Staff at the factory at Treorchy in the Rhondda are angry at plans to move production overseas.

On Friday, Burberry offered to give the factory, built in the 1930s, to the local community, guaranteeing 1m.

That offer has been widely dismissed and workers picketed shoppers at the brand's flagship stores on Saturday.

Around 80 staff at the Treorchy plant, which is due to close in March, travelled to London for the protest, their second in two months.

They handed out flyers and chanted "Keep Burberry British".

Unions claim that the 150-year-old fashion label plans to move the manufacturing work to China but the company says simply it is planned to go overseas.

Save money

Protester David Rees 62, a worker at Treorchy for 47 years, said the closure would devastate the small, valleys community.

"If Burberry move the work to China it will mean a lot of people will have to travel out of the area to work," said Mr Rees.

"Some people might even be forced to move away from Treorchy.

"Burberry clearly think they can save money by doing this. But Burberry prides itself in Being British through and through.

He added; "That will no longer be the case before long when all the manufacturing work is carried out abroad.

Clockwise from top left: Emma Thompson, Rhys Ifans, Bryn Terfel and Ioan Gruffudd, centre Tom Jones
Celebrities have backed the campaign for the factory to stay open

Burberry says it will maintain its Yorkshire plant and has also offered its Welsh workers jobs there.

Rhondda MP Chris Bryant, one of the politicians involved in the anti-closure campaign, backed by a string of famous names, said the protest had been a success because they were continuing to get their message across

"And we have lots more planned. Burberry is sponsoring the Bafta Awards and we will be holding a demonstration outside the nominations party next month, " said the MP.

On Friday the company announced it would give the factory site and the machinery to the Rhondda community, effectively guaranteeing 1m - either to keep the plant manufacturing or to be used for other purposes, depending on the views of a local committee,.

Burberry's chief financial officer Stacey Cartwright said the "most important thing now is to look after the employees".

Substantial profits

But Melvyn Burnett, the factory's GMB organisers said: "In meetings Burberry have told us the factory is worthless so their offer to let us have it is an empty gesture."

"These people want their jobs and judging by the reaction we have got from the public I think everyone wants to keep Burberry British."

The donation has attracted criticism at all levels including from Enterprise Minister Andrew Davies who said: "We think Burberry have a responsibility.

Burberry in Treorchy, Rhondda
The Burberry factory at Treorchy

"They made very substantial profits from Wales as many other companies have - those companies, good companies have a corporate responsibility to their communities and the people they've employed."

Mr Davies said he believed it would take "substantial investment" to improve the factory, including an estimated 250,000 for rewiring.

But Martin Rhisart, an economic development specialist, said it was "unlikely in the extreme that Burberry would go back on a business decision to close Treorchy" and the community should probably "just take the site".

Adrian Clarke, secretary of the Welsh Textile Association, said plans were well advanced for a workers' co-operative employing around 50 machinists which would benefit from the donation.

"All we hear is the bad news side," said Mr Clarke.

"There are some very positive tones coming out of the industry and the areas we're looking at the sampling the short-runs is a growth area which needs highly skilled machinists to fulfil the orders"




VIDEO AND AUDIO NEWS
"We think Burberry have a responsibility"


"They know very well we can't keep the factory going"



SEE ALSO
Burberry gifts 'complete insult'
24 Dec 06 |  South East Wales
Terfel supports Burberry campaign
17 Dec 06 |  South East Wales
Gruffudd supports Burberry fight
27 Nov 06 |  South East Wales

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