The Factory Girls – Episode 08

Carol had been expecting the London men to be snooty, and was thrown when they approached her with open smiles and instant admiration for the Cardill’s building. As the tour began and they seemed charmed by her factory she began to relax.“And these are the performance charts?” one of them, Mr Fanshaw, asked, stopping at the board. “Very impressive.”“Girls up here know how to work hard, Mr Fanshaw.”“They are on piece work?”“That’s right, but I find their performances are driven as much by pride as money.”He nodded solemnly and they moved on towards the ancient conveyor belt.“Do the building’s, er, idiosyncrasies create problems for you, Mrs Jenkins?”“Not at all. We have excellent systems in place to create a smooth production flow.”More nodding, more moving.“Beautiful stitching.”This was from the third one, Mr Smythson, a tall, long-fingered man who was peering intently at the seams of lacy French knickers.“Thank you,” Dana said. “We take great pride in our work at Cardill’s.” Lunch was a huge success. The men devoured Ina’s steak and kidney pudding in double quick time and then ladled custard on to their treacle tart like schoolboys on Sundays.Carol felt another flush of pride. It was all going well. Surely it was all going well?“You have a lovely factory here, Mrs Jenkins.” Mr Fanshaw beamed across the table.Carol blushed.“It means a lot to us all.”She gestured to Brenda and Helen, eating shyly, and they nodded agreement.“I can see that.” The words were said on a sigh, and Carol tensed.“Is there a problem?”Mr Fanshaw looked down.“There is,” he agreed quietly.Carol looked to Frank but his own head was down, his treacle tart barely touched. For a while no-one spoke, then Mr Wing cleared his throat.“I’m afraid that, high-performing though Cardill’s undoubtedly is, this sort of small scale manufacturing is proving increasingly hard to sustain in the UK.”“Small scale?” Helen stuttered. “We put out between two to three thousand pieces a week!”The men looked at each other.“We have factories abroad that can do ten times that for almost the same cost.”“No!”Helen, Brenda and Carol looked nervously at each other, Ina’s beautiful custard churning in their stomachs as the very factory seemed to hold its breath. Carol rose slowly and, drawing herself up to twice her diminutive height, looked at each of the Xion executives in turn.“What exactly are you saying?” Mr Fanshaw rose, too.“I’m saying, Mrs Jenkins, that, sorry as I truly am, Cardill’s Textiles is going to have to be closed down. And soon.”


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