Sacked workers' £1million tribunal victory
MORE THAN 100 workers unfairly dismissed from their jobs at Simclar in Dunfermline have won employment tribunals and a row is looming over who pays a bill which could reach £1 million.
In a bitter-sweet victory, the tribunal ruled in favour of the ex-workers at the electronics plant - some with more than 20 years' service - and the case, taken forward by the Community trade union, was successful on all points.
These included awards for unfair dismissal for all 104 members of the Community trade union who were dismissed, full unpaid notice, redundancy pay and unpaid wages for all affected.
Twelve workers will also receive full unpaid holiday pay and one individual has won an award for dismissal for trade union activities.
All 104 will be entitled to six months' wages but with the firm in administration, getting their money may not be straightforward.
The possibility that the bill, which could top £1 million, will have to be picked up by the taxpayer and not wealthy Simclar founder Sam Russell has led to renewed calls for company bosses to be responsible for redundancy payments when their firms go bust.
All 104 have also won a 90-day protective award as it was recognised the company failed to undertake appropriate levels of consultation with employee representatives.
Community Union campaign manager, John Paul McHugh, said, "This is a good result for our members and the other workers in this case.
"Given the way the long-serving and loyal employees were treated, it is sad that such a situation had to come about but I am pleased that we got justice in the end."
The workers' case has been backed by Mid Scotland and Fife MSP John Park who worked closely with the trade union to highlight the problems at the Dunfermline site.
Simclar's Dunfermline plant was put into administration by owner Sam Russell in 2011, forcing more than 130 people to lose their jobs.
Mr Russell hit the headlines again just a fortnight ago when it emerged that administrators were pursuing the businessman through the Court of Session for dividends worth £3 million paid from the Simclar parent company's Ayrshire wing, which also closed down.
Mr Park, welcoming the payment award, told the Press, "I am really pleased that the former employees of Simclar have won their case.
"Many of the workers had been based at Simclar for years so it was a real slap in the face when they lost their jobs in such a way.
"We're waiting to find out how much of the money will come from the Insolvency Fund and how much will have to be picked up by the taxpayer through the Redundancy Payments Office.
"In light of this, I am renewing my calls for irresponsible company owners to contribute towards the costs of redundancy payments when businesses go bust."
In January 2007 the Simclar Group closed its Kilwinning and Irvine plants amid allegations of asset stripping and abuse of workers' rights.
In August 2007, the workers were awarded approximately £800,000 in compensation for breaches of employment law by the Simclar Group.
Mr McHugh said, "I would not be surprised if the figure this time exceeds that.
"It's a fantastic decision for our members and vindicates what was said about the way they were treated by Sam Russell. It also shows the importance of being in a trade union in this day and age."
The employment hearing took place in Glasgow on Monday.
This article appeared in Dunfermline Press 30 Mar 12
Have your say. Post a comment on this article.
Apr 2, 10:34
'Press please print the full facts of this story. The headline should read "Taxpayers to foot the £1 million bill for redundancy payments".
The good old tax payer will be footing the bill in full for these payments because Sam Russell is no longer responsible for them due to a 'loophole' in company law.
Had to laugh at the above "the administrators are pursuing Mr Russell through the courts for £3 million". Good luck, because the guy is now untouchable due to all the (legal) company & financial loopholes these folk seem to exploit with ease (Craig Whyte, et al).
Mr Russell, I hope you sleep soundly in your gated mansion in Barnton.............
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