Sky steps in after Burberry pulls plug on Bafta awards

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The Independent Online

Sky TV has stepped in to sponsor a Bafta awards reception after the threat of demonstrations by redundant workers prompted Burberry to pull its backing of the event.

The protest was planned by Burberry employees trying to save its factory in the Rhondda Valley, south Wales, which is set to close at the end of March with the loss of 300 jobs.

There were fears the event would be cancelled, but Sky TV stepped in to sponsor the reception at the Natural History Museum, in London, on 10 February, which is in honour of Bafta nominees. The event, being held on the eve of the main awards ceremony, is due to be attended by more than 800 guests.

Stacey Cartwright, Burberry's chief financial officer, said: "It would have been embarrassing to Britain. Just think about it being beamed around the world." Ms Cartwright also conceded that it would have been embarrassing for the company.

Central to the protesters' argument is that, while Burberry claims to be a "quintessentially" British brand, it is switching production to China, where its items can be produced much more cheaply. Asked whether the Treorchy factory was making a loss, Ms Cartwright said it was "not commercially viable".

Ms Cartwright said the company had identified 250 "job opportunities" within 20 minutes of the Rhondda factory. She said that only about 200 of the workforce were still looking for jobs. She added thatthe plant was being donated to the community.

Mervyn Burnett, at the GMB union, said: "Our intention was to peacefully point out that Burberry plans to move 310 jobs from south Wales ... to boost profits by using non-unionised super-exploited Chinese textile workers."