Shires Bathrooms lays off 60 workers

Workers outside the Shires factory last year, when initial cutbacks were announced

The Denso Marston site

First published in News Bradford Telegraph and Argus: Photograph of the Author by , Business Reporter

About 60 workers at a Bradford bathroom factory have been laid off after administrators were called in by its owners.

Shires Bathrooms, in Beckside Lane, Lidget Green, part of the Irish-based Qualcaram Group, called in accountants Ernst & Young earlier this week and production and warehouse workers have been laid off.

According to the workers’ union, there was no consultation prior to the lay-offs. Dick Croft, Unite divisional officer, said the future for the Bradford factory looked bleak and his priority would be to secure redundancy pay for his members.

He said: “Shires has become the latest victim of the recession and it will be very difficult for people to find other jobs in the current climate.”

The union will be pursuing a claim under “failure to consult “ regulations for up to eight weeks pay for members.

Shires moved to Bradford from its original Guiseley base in 1990 and occupied the 11-acre former Thorn (Bairds) TV factory. It invested £4m and brought 200 jobs to the city at that time.

The firm introduced new shift patterns in the warehouse last year to reduce costs by removing shift premiums and reducing hours. Workers staged a series of one-day strikes over the move, which they said had cut their wages by £1,500 a year.

Wedding album and stationery manufacturer Spicer Hallfield, which has a factory in Otley Road, Undercliffe, has also gone into administration.

Administrators have also been appointed by the Buckinghamshire-based firm, which was planning to transfer production business and 36 staff to Bradford next month.

General manager John Wyatt said administrators MCR had been appointed after the firm failed to reach agreement with its bankers RBS over extra funding.

Tough trading conditions are also continuing to make life difficult at Shipley car radiator maker Denso Marston, which is adding three extra days to the Easter break, making a full week shut down.

The company saw sales fall by 16 per cent last month and expects the downward trend to continue, with sales expected to be 19 per cent lower this month and 15 per cent down in May.

In a letter to staff, managing director Marco DiRao says he was reluctant to consider further cuts but action was needed to protect the factory’s future.

The firm recently axed 90 jobs from its 668-strong workforce following losses by the world’s biggest car-maker Toyota, which owns a 23 per cent stake in Denso.

In the letter Mr DiRao said: “Unfortunately, our sales are still continuing to reduce, therefore we have to take some action. I am reluctant to consider further headcount reductions as we could jeopardise the future when the situation recovers.”

Swiss-based chemicals giant Ciba, which employs more than 800 people at its Low Moor, Bradford, plant, is also extending the Easter holiday for those departments which have seen a downturn in trade. Site director Dr Mike McFarlane said other areas, such as agrochemicals, remained busy and would continue as normal.

e-mail: chris.holland@telegraphandargus.co.uk

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