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Peter Hadden

Carpet Factories Face Closure –
Management to Blame

(September 2003)

From Socialist Voice (Dublin), September 2003.
Transcribed by Ciaran Crossey.
Marked up by Einde O’Callaghan for the Encyclopaedia of Trotskyism On-Line (ETOL).

MORE THAN 400 jobs are under threat at the Carpets International factories at Donaghadee and Killinchy. The company, which has a number of plants in England and Wales, went into liquidation in August.

Already 140 redundancies have been announced locally, and more are likely to follow. The receivers, PriceWaterhouseCoopers, say that they have a number of prospective buyers for the plants, but most workers are sceptical.

T&GWU deputy convenor and Socialist Party member, Tommy Carlisle, told Socialist Voice:

“The plant has orders and could be viable.

“From what we can see management has been deliberately running the plant down. Carpets that have failed our quality control have been sent out by management only to be returned at a huge loss.

“Machinery across the company has been moved to the Welsh plant. It can be no coincidence that the Welsh factory has been the subject of a management buy out which has just gone through.

“The question we want answered is whether the rest of the company has been allowed to go to the wall to remove potential competition for the Welsh venture.

“They are now saying that a local takeover could save the remaining jobs. If this does happen, it will probably mean that the wages and conditions we have negotiated will be under attack. Over the last couple of years, we have strengthened the union in the Donaghadee plant and have won real concessions.

“It is possible there is no buyer and that the workers who have not yet been made redundant are being retained only to finish the existing orders. We have heard rumours from management that they expect the whole place to be shut within seven months.

“Our plant – and the supply plant in Killinchy – could be viable. Unlike the textile industry which has been decimated in this area, the management do not have the excuse of competition from cheap imports.

“The only sure way to save our jobs and prevent much of the area being turned into an industrial wasteland is for Carpets International to be brought into public ownership so that we can continue to make quality carpets without the handicap of management sabotage.”

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