INSULT to injury.
That is the workforce’s verdict on the decision by their former bosses at Selkirk’s Bridgehaugh Dyeworks – destroyed by fire two weeks ago – to withhold redundancy cash which was due to be paid out last Thursday.
A total of around £25,000 had been promised to the 11 members of staff who had been with the firm for more than two years.
But when they checked with their banks on June 2, they discovered no such transfer had been made.
And they learned later that day that they would not be receiving the money because the Clydesdale Bank had frozen the firm’s bank account.
Like the company’s other 13 employees who lost their jobs the day after the blaze, they had received no payment in lieu of notice and their final pay packet contained just 25 hours of holiday pay.
Already disgrunted at the way the firm had invoked a legal “reason of frustration” for the immediate termination of contracts, the workers met this week in a Selkirk hotel to form a plan of action.
“The overwhelming feeling at the meeting was that by not paying out the redundancy money as promised, the firm has added insult to injury, and not fulfilled the terms of a letter we received on May 23,” said one member of staff who had been due to collect more than £3,500, reflecting his 10 years of service. With the assistance of their local councillor Vicky Davidson, who is Scottish Borders Council’s executive member for economic development, and the Citizen’s Advice Bureaux, the sacked staff have arranged to meet with a lawyer in a bid to address their grievances. “I have gone from a full- time job with a company with a great order book to £67.50 job seekers allowance,” said the employee who does not wish to be named but has been appointed to take forward the legal action on behalf of his colleagues.
“It’s hard to describe how I felt when I went to the bank last Thursday to discover nothing had been paid in and then to get a phone call from the office manageress, who is the only worker still retained, telling me the cash was not coming.
“This complete mess, which is none of our doing, is causing real hardship for former workers and their families.”
A spokesperson for the company said: “Unfortunately after the devastating fire destroyed Bridgehaugh Ltd’s premises, we had no option but to let the majority of staff go as we were unable to trade with immediate effect.
“We had hoped to issue redundancy payments to staff ... but this is now not possible until we settle our insurance claim.
“We are doing everything we can, working with the bank and our insurers to resolve this matter as quickly as possible.”