Axminster Carpet workers plan action as crisis talks continue
Workers are planning a day of action in the hope that a saviour will emerge from crisis talks at Axminster Carpets.
Staff – who say there are not being paid – are launching a campaign to persuade potential bidders to take over the 250-year-old firm and save more than 400 jobs.
They hope people of the Devon town will join them in sending out a message that buyers will get much more than a carpet maker for their money.
Community, the union representing workers, yesterday announced plans to assemble at Axminster's Guildhall.
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Campaign manager Lorraine Gaskell said the depth of feeling for the firm among the community could be a big selling point.
"The firm is not dead or in administration – that is the crux of the campaign," she added.
"There is great optimism and people are determined to keep it going. This is about making sure that everybody knows the value of this factory in the community and that there is potential to save it.
"Anyone that wants it is also going to get the community behind it – the feedback we are getting is that people want to support us and that is going to be a big sell to any potential investor."
Crisis talks at the plant moved into a third day yesterday, leaving workers in Axminster and Buckfastleigh nervously waiting for news of a rescue plan. Town mayor Andrew Moulding said the fact that negotiations were continuing was itself positive, but sounded a note of caution about the planned day of action.
"I am very pleased the talks are going on – they are not in administration yet and there is a moratorium, a breathing space, to see whether there is a possible solution," he added.
"From what I understand there is a full order book and a first-class workforce with all the machinery – you would think there is an opportunity for it to carry on in some shape or form.
"Various agencies are involved and talks could go on over the weekend.
"Closure doesn't bear thinking about though I do wonder what audience the demonstrators are trying to reach and what they can achieve."
Derek Branker, local secretary of the Community union, called on the Government to do more to support the carpet industry.
"We are trying to show the world we are worth investing in. We want to get over the point that we are still running and open for business. We are all fighting to keep this historic firm – and for our jobs."