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    19 January, 2007


    There was a short discussion on Burberry during questions to the First Minister on Tuesday.

    Rhodri's initial comments have already been highlighted on the campaign website:

    The First Minister: It is important that we explore every option to maintain Burberry employment. If we cannot change the company’s mind, we will clearly be looking for alternatives to Burberry employment. However, the message needs to go out clearly from the Assembly today to Burberry’s top management that, if they fail to show flexibility on this issue, I am very much afraid that they will take a huge reputation hit. Burberry is not selling clothing, as such; it is selling a dream and an image of Britishness, and if it sacrifices that, it will be sacrificing a great deal. Whereas Mary, Queen of Scots, was conscious that the loss of Calais would appear on her gravestone, the refusal to show flexibility over the factory in the Rhondda will be on the commercial headstone of Angela Ahrendts, the boss of Burberry, when she moves on in a few years’ time.

    I followed up:

    Leighton Andrews: First Minister, I welcome what you have said. It is clear that the GMB-led campaign continues, trying to keep the jobs in Treorchy and trying to make the case that, if Burberry wants to be seen as a British company, it needs to keep manufacturing jobs in Britain. Would you agree that if there is a move towards a workers’ co-operative—and I welcome the work that Welsh Assembly Government officials, along with others, have put in on this—it may well rely, to a degree, on orders from Burberry, on the use of redundant machinery from Burberry and, probably, on the use of factory space currently belonging to Burberry? Therefore, a commitment by Burberry will be crucial.

    The First Minister: That is right. The chances of the workers’ co-operative being able to employ tens of people—one should not be talking of hundreds of people at this stage—depends on being able to get sub-contracted, short-order work from Burberry to get it going. That will require a degree of goodwill and assistance. I hope that Burberry sees that as part of an exit strategy if it is not willing to change its mind on the main issue.

    Rhondda TV
    The Labour Party

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    Promoted by Leighton Andrews AM, National Assembly for Wales, Cardiff CF99 1NA.

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