Historical Studies in Industrial Relations

Hands Not Wanted: Closure, and the Moral Economy of Protest, Treorchy, South Wales

Historical Studies in Industrial Relations (2017), 38, (1), 1–36.

Abstract

This article traces the history of a single clothing factory in Ynyswen, Treorchy, in the Rhondda valleys (the Rhondda), south Wales. Originally named after its founder, Alfred Polikofff, it was owned later by Burberry. The article explores the significance of the life-cycle of the factory for a locality marked by deindustrialization. In the 1930s, the factory had been part of the government’s drive to bring new employment to the Rhondda, one of the depressed areas of Britain. It was a high-profile employer for almost seventy years, part of the local community, yet in 2006, despite being profitable, Burberry issued notice of closure and transferred its production to China. The company no longer wanted ‘hands’ in the Rhondda because workers were cheaper elsewhere. It was a new abandonment of the valley, in the interests of twenty-first century shareholders.

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Author details

Jenkins, Jean