Tuesday, February 17, 2009

No human Decency.

Last Thursday, I posted on the falling into administration of Floform in Welshpool. This came as quite a shock to the workforce, but they anticipated working on while the administrators decided what to do. Yesterday, two working days later, 74 of the 80 workers were called to a meeting and told to go home because their jobs were finished. They left the factory to join others who had been made redundant before Christmas. I believe 6 workers have been retained to maintain the site. Today, the former employees of Floform do not know what redundancy is available, or how to access it. They are probably at home feeling stunned. The Assembly Government have not been told what is going on, and as of this afternoon, did not have access to the factory to set up any sort of advice or job centre. In 2009, its hard to believe this is happening.

Tomorrow, the now ex-workers are meeting outside the factory gates at around 3.30 in the afternoon. I feel so outraged by the 'Dickensian' way that the workforce has been treated, that I've pulled out of the afternoon session of a Care Homes Conference I'm attending in Cardiff to join them. I've discussed the issue with the Shadow Secretary of State for Wales tonight, and she wants me to report back the situation. I know that when the order book is empty, the jobs are gone, and not much can be done to rescue the position. Its dishonest to pretend otherwise. But the way the employees at Floform has been treated is an utterly shocking disgrace. I will probably be not much more than a bystander tomorrow, but I want to show some solidarity with Montgomeryshire people who have not been treated with the respect and human decency they deserve.

7 comments:

Caws said...

Glyn,

I'm sure in your roles working with the DBRW you have experienced the cruelty of a downturn. I agree with you this is a horrible way to treat people but I fear that this is only the beginning of what will be a difficult time for the Severn Valley. We have a fragile economy at the best of times and this is not one of those good times so we must brace ourselves.
I respect you in prioritising your appointments but I'm afraid this problem needs addressing at a senior political level in WAG. I don't know what effects Proact is having amongst companies but some real intervention needs to happen soon before all the hard work of the DBRW is forgotten forever and we watch the tumbleweeds float down the valley.

Glyn Davies said...

Caws - I do recall the consequences of a downturn. But the way that the workforce was treated at Floform is the worst that I know. It was virtually a lock out, with employees of decades loyalty just left with no support at all. I attended a meeting outside the factory this afternoon, organised by Unite, the trade union, and was staggered to hear the details of what had happened.
I do despair about the way in which the focus of Government is very much undirected towards Mid Wales.

Dr. Christopher Wood said...

It's made worse because the Welsh economy, and the manufacturing sector in particular, is shrinking so fast that it is hard to find a replacement job. This situation is largely avoidable for reasons I have repeated ad nauseam.

Glyn Davies said...

Christopher - I agree that there is a case for focussing more on manufacturing - particularly important for areas like rural Wales.

Welsh correspondent in 'DC' said...

The appalling state of manufacturing in Wales has resulted from inactions of the Welsh Government in failing to harness for the benefit of Wales the number one Welsh asset: the intellectual property output of Wales’s world-class universities.

As recently reported by Professor Dylan Jones-Evans in his excellent article in the Western Mail (Jan 31): "MIT students, alumni and faculty have founded more than 5,000 companies, and approximately 150 new MIT-related companies are founded each year. These companies now account for employment of over 1.1 million people and annual sales of more than £200bn."

Based on postgraduate numbers reported in Wikipedia, Cardiff University and Swansea University have in combination thousands more postgraduate than Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) in the USA. Postgraduate researchers typically provide the grunt work in research projects.

So one might expect that Wales would be cooking up new jobs at a faster rate than MIT, but sadly we all know that this hasn’t happened, that our Welsh Government has failed to harness Wales’s world class universities potential for job creation in Wales.

But it need not be so.

Borrowing from one of John Lennon’s famous songs: "Imagine there's action to harness Wales’s #1 asset, it’s easy if you try, imagine all the Welsh people with 1.1 million extra jobs … Living for today".

Glyn Davies said...

Christopher - Dylan well understands th epoint you are making. What a pity he wasn't elected as AM for aberconwy at the last Assembly Election.

Correspondent from "DC" said...

Glyn> Yes, I am sure that Professor Dylan Jones-Evans understands the issue.

The opportunity and social cost for Wales is HUGE. Lost jobs, lost revenues, a continuing over-reliance on London, a swollen public sector, burgeoning unemployment in the private sector compounded by a low GVA economy over reliant as it is on the public sector.

I see no motion or game plan in the works to fix this glaring HUGE issue. I have taken the matter up now with several politicians, all agree that it is a problem, but none to date see it as a 'sexy issue'.

Wales is on track for another decade of low GVA economy. Yet Wales would have over 1 million new jobs but for the lack of leadership from the WAG. This lack of leadership comes with a huge price tag: more poor Welsh families, more stress and heartache as Welsh people are forced into desperate measures to get by. The opportunity and social cost is HUGE.

My business partner/lawyer and I (and hence Wood & Eisenberg) will be at an event on March 5 at a promote-Wales-event at the British Ambassadors Residence on Massachusetts Avenue in Washington, DC (my second visit to the British Ambassadors Residence). (I guess it’s linked to St. David’s Day, and has something to do with the Smithsonian and a planned Welsh-promotion even on The National Mall in DC.)

The First Minister of Wales is scheduled to be there. I don't suppose I will get a chance to discuss the issue with the First Minister, I guess conversation will be social in kind, e.g., "First Minister I guess you know XYY (American for you definitely know XYZee), well XYY and my mother are the best of friends, they worked together for some 20 years at the Principality Building Society on Queen Street, blah blah ... I happen to like Rhodri Morgan, I think he’s a great very kind and considerate guy as evidenced by his kindness to my mother’s best friend and her mother.

(My mum’s best friend was a school mate of Rhodri Morgan, my mum’s friend’s mum was well known in local Labour circles having been active in Labour politics in Morganstown for many years. Rhodri Morgan attended her funeral a couple of years ago or thereabouts and prior to that visited her in hospital at Llandough; I gather the First Minister’s mother was also at Llandough).

I guess there will be a representative from President Obama’s administration at the event, and maybe a few Senators of Welsh descent (no, I will not bring up Peter Black’s comments about John McCain! Also, I promise not to mention anything about “the bust” or look for it! Headlined as: “Barack Obama sends bust of Winston Churchill on its way back to Britain (via the British Embassy)”; apparently the bust has pride of place in “the palatial residence of Ambassador Sir Nigel Sheinwald”, see:

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/northamerica/usa/barackobama/4623148/Barack-Obama-sends-bust-of-Winston-Churchill-on-its-way-back-to-Britain.html

Did I mention that a guy I once worked with and hired to do some trademark research was President Reagan’s official photographer? He tried to find me a condo, great guy, and has so many connections around the DC metro area. He took up real estate – just when the housing boom was ending. Really bad luck.

Among his many professional photographs he took the last photograph of Ronald Reagan and the Vice President driving away from the White House – President Reagan had such a sense of humor/humour that as a last gesture he did a micro-wave to my friend as his limo pulled away. There was just the photographer, the now departing President and VP, and a group of Secret Service police (yes, they are a police force in their own right with jurisdiction over such things as illegal money printing - counterfeiting money is one of the oldest crimes in the history of America. His first job was to fire his boss, as he put it, he was hired by Nancy Reagan to fire his boss – because his boss refused The First Lady Nancy Reagan’s request to fire his assistant who apparently did a ‘no no’, the First Lady was very protective of her husband, she was/still is very kind, but never try to take advantage of Ronnie! Her teeth include some very sharp talons!

Knowing you are a fan of Ronald Reagan, if you ever come to Washington, DC, I will treat you to a restaurant meal with that photographer. He’s a very humble nice guy, I worked with him at a law firm near DC, his father passed away; it was the first time I got to feel the pain of an American losing a close relative. Americans are very kind and human – not some stereotypical army of unthinking uncaring robots. He won’t say anything that compromises national security, but he has such an insider’s quirky view of how the White House runs, which I found very funny/entertaining – down to the guys who open and close doors at the White House! I gather the guys who are in charge of the doors are hired from one of the branches of the US military (kind of makes sense). Each part of the White House jealously guards their corner! There is so much tradition there – kind of strange to think that as we Brits sometimes think America has no history or tradition!