Page last updated at 15:32 GMT, Friday, 13 March 2009

End of the line for Hoover plant


Workers were disappointed by the closure which sees 337 people lose their jobs

Workers carrying a mock grave have marked the end of 60 years of washing machine manufacturing at Merthyr Tydfil's Hoover factory.

They led a small procession from the plant on Friday after the last main production shift clocked off.

The decision to end manufacturing means the loss of 337 jobs. Around 100 staff will remain at the site which retains its headquarter status.

There were about 50 people who took part in the march.

Two brothers Malcolm and Gareth Williams have worked 72 years at the plant between them.

Malcolm Williams, 57, from Merthyr said: "It was very sombre, we were shaking hands and there were a few hugs.

Malcolm and Gareth Williams
Brothers Malcolm and Gareth Williams have both lost their jobs

"There were one or two tears shed but we knew this was coming for a long time. It wasn't a shock.

"There's a lot of ghosts coming out with us today."

Gareth Williams, 56, said: "We've got people here who are very motivated, target driven - highly skilled workforce that are on the scrapheap.

"My father-in-law did 40 years here and my mother worked here.

"The workforce should be proud of themselves coming out here with their heads held high."

Machine operator John Jones, 57, from Aberdare, said: "Everybody was down really today.

John Jones, Unite
I'm 58, will I get another job? Even people at 50 might not be able to find employment
John Jones, Unite

"It's upsetting. We've been here years with all the people we know.

"I don't think I'll find a job very easily at my age."

Another John Jones, the factory convenor for Unite union said: "It's a really sad sad day - one of sheer disappointment.

"We hope the Welsh assembly and Merthyr council will get together and bring jobs back to the valleys.

"If that doesn't happen the impact will last four, five years.

"I'm 58, will I get another job? Even people at 50 might not be able to find employment."

With production being transferred abroad, the assembly government said its priority now was to support those who were losing their jobs.

It said a team of specialists, including representatives from Merthyr council and Hoover, had already started a study on how the factory site could be used.

"I understand fully the disappointment that very many people in Merthyr feel today," said Deputy First Minister Ieuan Wyn Jones.

"But the end of manufacturing means that a site of some 30 acres is now available for redevelopment.

"Our task now is to look to the future - and make good the loss of jobs and the impact of the closure on the community."

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