Barrie jobs still in the balance

UNCERTAINTY continues to hang over Hawick jobs this week as negotiations proceed on company pensions, writes Sally Gillespie.

The future of the 170-180 jobs at cashmere knitwear company Barrie are in the balance after owner Dawson International’s bid to put its pension plans in a protection fund was knocked back last month.

The firm then warned it could be forced into administration unless it agrees a payment scheme on its £50million pension deficit with the company’s 3,200 pensioners, who include former Borders employees.

It has been in talks with the pension plans’ trustees and the pensions regulator for more than a week since then.

Yesterday, Dawson’s finance boss David Cooper said: “We are still in discussion, it’s a situation that hasn’t changed.

“I think with good will and common sense on all sides, there could be a good outcome to this, but it’s just very difficult and I appreciate that everybody involved in this is in a difficult situation. It’s very difficult to say when there will be an outcome.”

A GMB union spokesperson said there had been no contact from the company or Barrie employees on the issue.

Dawson once employed 12,000 people and owned the iconic Borders companies Pringle of Scotland and Ballantyne Cashmere.

Last year, the 140-year-old textile group sold its bed linen business for £6million, its third disposal in two years, to help the pensions deficit, leaving the company with just Barrie and its American arm sourcing cashmere garments from China.

Dawson disposed of Pringle of Scotland in 2000 to the Fang Brothers, who closed the Hawick mill with a loss of 80 knitwear workers’ jobs in 2008.

And it sold Ballantyne Cashmere, which employed 220 people, mostly at Caerlee Mill in Innerleithen, in 2004.