PAYOUTS to staff of building firm R&D Construction which went into administration in April of this year have been welcomed by local politicians who fought for fair treatment of the 200-strong workforce.
SNP MSP for the South of Scotland Dr Aileen McLeod praised the employment tribunal which found that the company did not follow labour relations law.
Dr McLeod said: “I am pleased that the employment tribunal has found in favour of the workforce in this instance. It is little compensation for losing your job, but it does at least secure what the workers were entitled to by law.
“Clearly the focus now must be on completing the neighbourhood renewal projects in Stranraer and Dumfries, and I know that DGHP has been working hard to satisfy the European procurement regulations which have caused the bulk of the delays to date.”
The Union of Construction Allied Trades and Technicians (UCATT) took R&D Construction to an employment tribunal. While the size of the payment is still to be decided, it will come from the Insolvency Service and will be in addition to redundancy payments.
R&D Construction was the principal contractor for DGHP’s multimillion pound regeneration programme to build 500 new homes in Dumfries and Stranraer, which were to be a mix of social housing and homes for sale.
In August DGHP confirmed that attempts to quickly transfer the contracts to a new company in an assignation process had failed, and a full re-tendering was taking place – a process that would take months. Tenders will close at the end of this month, with a decision likely to be reached in early December and it is likely that workmen will not be back on the sites until January at the earliest.
Dumfries and Galloway MP Russell Brown said: “The award of this payment is good news for the former R&D workforce and recognises that they were let down by the company. However, while the union have won their case, there is still some uncertainty about who is actually covered or how much the payment will be.
“While very welcome, a lump sum doesn’t make up for the loss of their job and I know there many in the workforce still looking for work. My priority is to see these DGHP construction sites re-opened as quickly as possible so the workforce can get back onsite. Many of them have families and are finding it really tough paying the bills, so the sooner they can get back to work the better.
“It’s over six months since R&D collapsed and local people in the regeneration areas in Dumfries and Stranraer are crying out to see some progress. The work is still there to be completed for DGHP and it does no one any good for homes to be sitting unfinished for months and months.”