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J&P Coats hit hard by economic crisis

THE cruel scale of the economic crisis of the 1980s was nowhere more clearly illustrated than in Paisley, where J&P Coats textile factory cut 1000 jobs.

Paisley was regarded as the UK's major textile centre. Just after the Second World War, the industry employed 20,000 people locally but, because of falling demand and increased competition from abroad, the numbers had slumped to just 2500.

In one year, sales fell by a fifth and the firm in 1982 expected to make a £2 million loss, so had decided to close its Ferguslie plant and concentrate its activity at its Anchor mill site.

At the time of the job loss announcement, the factory was Paisley's largest employer. The cutbacks would reduce the 2500 workforce by another 40%.

As local labour MP Allen Adams met the Prime Minister, hopes were raised that as many as 500 jobs could be saved. Yet the Scottish Office made clear there was "no such commitment given at our meeting".

One memo about Mr Adams's meeting with Mrs Thatcher underlined the cold economic climate: "The Prime Minister referred to the danger that deliberate over-manning only serves to undermine industry's efficiency and she emphasised that Government finance would be tied to reinvestment."

Company bosses pointed out the "enormous differentials" between production costs in Scotland and abroad with the Philippines now being the cheapest competitor. Yet they stressed with "just a little more money" from the Government, redundancies could be minimised.

One Government note stressed: "The company said that this rationalisation and reorganisation is necessary to ensure that the whole operation did not disappear."

Contextual targeting label: 
Local government

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