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Last Updated: Sunday, 24 December 2006, 12:55 GMT
Burberry gifts 'complete insult'
Burberry workers protesting at a London store
The workers have taken their protest to Burberry's London stores
Burberry bosses have been accused of insensitivity and meanness over Christmas bonuses given to staff at the Treorchy factory in south Wales.

The clothing firm which is planning to shut its Rhondda site in March gave workers a Burberry scarf and a 30 voucher to spend on its products.

Union leaders branded the gift a "complete insult" and claimed some members had torn up their vouchers.

A spokesperson for Burberry said the gift was consistent with recent years.

In September the company announced it was looking at proposals to move production abroad, but has since said it does not intend to abandon the UK and has offered Welsh staff work at its site in Yorkshire.

This so-called Christmas bonus is mean and pathetic
Leighton Andrews AM

Workers have staged a high-profile campaign to keep the south Wales factory open and have been joined in their fight by celebrities including Ioan Gruffudd - who advertises for Burberry - and opera singer Bryn Terfel.

In November staff protested outside the brand's London stores and last week took their campaign to the House of Commons to urge politicians to support their cause.

GMB Union organiser Mervyn Burnett said some members had been disgusted by the Christmas bonus and had ripped up their vouchers.

Bryn Terfel and Jill Evans MEP
Bryn Terfel is supporting the campaign to save the factory

"In normal circumstances it would have been a nice gesture but to just think they've offered them Burberry vouchers that they can only spend in Burberry outlets," he said.

"Perhaps the company feel they want to keep the tradition going but in the circumstances as I said we regard it and a number of our members regard it as a complete insult."

Rhondda AM Leighton Andrews said Burberry bosses had shown a lack of "Christmas spirit".

"The redundancy offers they have received are miserable. This so-called Christmas bonus is mean and pathetic." he said.

Clive Pate, 55, who has worked at the Burberry factory for 40 years and whose wife and son also work there said the threat of losing their jobs was "in the background all the time".

"I usually enjoy Christmas but this year there's not a lot of go in us," he said.

Investments

"If we go out socially you know we go out with Burberry employees.... there's three hundred people, we're all in the same boat... It's not a very nice feeling".

Meanwhile, the Church of England has written to Burberry asking about its proposals to close the factory after Rhondda MP Chris Bryant urged it to look into its investment holdings in the light of the threat.

A spokesperson for Burberry declined to comment over the church's involvement, but told the BBC: "Burberry staff in Treorchy have been given vouchers and scarves for Christmas.

"This is entirely consistent with previous years and as in previous years staff will be able to use their voucher in the Burberry outlet in Treorchy."




SEE ALSO
Burberry campaign goes to Commons
19 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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