Friday, 28 August 2009

End of TV manufacture in Britain

This story has its main repercussions in Plymouth but was considered important enough to feature in a national news bulletin. It's all about the fact that the Toshiba factory in the city has ceased making TVs, manufacture now being transferred to Poland. Officially this means the loss of 270 jobs but it's thought that anything up to another 250 jobs are also at risk as they were dependent on the Toshiba factory. On the plus side of things some 50 employees are being retained to provide their expertise to staff in the Polish factory and also to carry out any refurbishment of returned products.

Prior to the Toshiba operation the Ernesettle facility was manufacturing TVs under the 'Rank Bush Murphy' banner. I'm trying to recall how long in total the place has been producing televisions - I have a feeling it's about 40 years, so quite a considerable time. It's the fact that it was the last factory in this country that was making TVs that led to the closure being an item on the national news.

Apparently Toshiba are cutting staff numbers left, right and centre worldwide as a result of the recession - little comfort of course to those Plymouth folk losing their jobs. The reality is that we are all in a global market place and it's just not possible for us to compete with the lower labour costs in developing economies when it comes to making consumer goods. It's in the area of innovation that the future of our country lies. When Blair became PM it was all about "Education, Education, Education" if you remember. Perhaps Cameron should start talking about "Innovation, Innovation, Innovation"! It might not sound very sexy with the voters but it is the way to our salvation surely. One of the things that bothers me about the knock on effects of the banking crisis is that not enough money is supporting the small to medium size businesses from which much innovation can come: all because the banks are having to build up their assets whilst developing businesses are being starved of funds.

For anyone desperate enough to want to see the last TV leaving the line at Plymouth's Toshiba factory someone has obliged by putting a video on 'YouTube' believe it or not. Go to that site and search for "last tv ever made in uk".

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