MP told of Textile Jobs Threats

MP told of Textile Jobs Threats
MP told of Textile Jobs Threats
Mrs Alice Mahon MP with Sheila Smith at John Holdsworth & Co Ltd,
Shaw Lodge Mills, Halifax. 22nd August 1991

Alice Mahon MP told of Textile Jobs Threats

Visit to John Holdsworth & Co Ltd, 22nd August 1991

GOVERNMENT inaction over a European Community plan to impose extra duty on cotton could cost jobs in one of Calderdale's oldest surviving textile companies.

Now John Holdsworth & Co Ltd, of Shaw Lodge Mills, with the backing of Halifax MP Mrs Alice Mahon, is making a last ditch plea to Europe to head off the threat to jobs at the Halifax firm.

Mrs Mahon is enlisting the aid of Yorkshire West Euro MP Dr. Barry Seal to lobby the commission in a bid to stop the proposal, which comes into effect next month, becoming permanent.

The European proposal is for an anti-dumping duty to prevent what it believes is the dumping - selling at or below cost price - in Europe of cheap cotton and polyester from outside the community.

The managing director of the company, Mr Michael Holdsworth, told Mrs Mahon during her visit to the firm yesterday, that in a tight market it would be virtually impossible to pass on the costs.

The result could be lost orders and lost jobs at the firm, which had already seen its workforce cut by a quarter over the last year.

The firm, the largest maker of moquettes for bus, rail and coach seating in Europe, uses wool as the pile face but cotton as the backing.

It has been buying on the world market and the anti-dumping duty on cotton and polyester yarns could mean an increase of as much as 25 per cent in the cost of its cotton.

Mr Holdsworth told Mrs Mahon that he understood the motive behind the proposal of protecting what was left of the UK and European cotton industry.

"Why didn't they do this 25 years ago when there were one million people employed in the industry?"

The ruling would now protect the very few jobs - around 4,000 - remaining in the UK's cotton industry but would threaten tens of thousands in textile industries now facing higher costs, he said.

Mrs Mahon, who will brief Labour shadow trade and industry chief Mr Gordon Brown and shadow chancellor Mr John Smith, said she was desperately worried about yet another threat to an already beleaguered manufacturing base of Calderdale.

"The Government seems to have no idea of the effect this is having on manufacturing," she said

Mr Holdsworth said there was now not enough capacity within Europe in either volume or quality terms to meet all Europe's yarn needs, so his company would still have to buy outside Europe.

The extra duty would hit the firm, whose main customer is British Rail, particularly hard.

"I will have no alternative but to start seriously considering making further reductions in two cost areas.

"The first is obviously the people, which will reduce our service and will reduce our competitiveness. The second area is in training, research and development, quality assurance and preparations for 1992.

"There is absolutely no point in making preparations for business we hope to gain in 1996 and onwards if we cannot even reach 1993."

Although the duty planned can be reclaimed on goods exported outside the European Community, only 40 per cent of the firm's overseas sales go outside Europe, leaving it to pay duty on the rest.

Holdsworth was set up in 1822 and currently employs about 170 people.

Reported by Arnold Woods, business editor at The Halifax Courier, 23rd August 1991

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