Michelle was employed by Mike Baldwin as a machinist when he set up a sweatshop to produce travel bags in the flat above Jim's Cafe in February 1990. The noise and dust disrupted the café and when a Health and Safety inspector paid a visit, the enterprise was closed down, and Michelle and her colleagues lost their jobs.

As she arrived at the "factory" for her first day of work, Michelle was preoccupied with her wedding preparations, explaining to the other girls that she wanted her cousin Gemma and was afraid that her fiancé Malcolm's sister would want their Caroline. Her colleague Josie Phillips was surprised that she was so worried about it, as the wedding was two years away. Realising that work was the last thing on the girls' minds, Alma Sedgewick resigned herself to having to supervise them while Mike drummed up business, leaving a livid Gail Tilsley on her own downstairs.

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