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Ongoing insolvency dispute prevents redundancy payments to staff

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Staff at a Scottish clinical waste disposal firm are facing financial hardship as an ongoing contested insolvency action means that redundancy payments are being delayed.

Staff at Dundee-based Healthcare Environmental Services (HES) have been caught up in a recent controversy following revelations that the business had been stockpiling human waste and body parts. The revelations resulted in the termination of a significant number of NHS contracts with HES, followed by the firms 100+ staff being given employment termination notices.

HES’s management team, headed by MD Garry Pettigrew, are continuing to contest the insolvency process and find a buyer for the company, meaning that any redundancy payments to staff will not be made until the insolvency process is completed. HES staff have arranged a meeting with Dundee East MSP Shona Robison on Monday afternoon and are trying to rally support from other local representatives.

Stuart McSorley, 39, who worked for HES for 18 months, said:

We have all received letters now, although we still don’t know what is happening and still haven’t spoken in person with Pettigrew..our team leader tried to email and set up a meeting but his account has been taken off the server. It feels like we’ve just been left…we’ve heard about staff being referred to food banks and I know myself I have mortgage and car payments due over the next few weeks…pettigrew has made millions off the company for years and now he can just turn around and say he won’t pay our wages without even having the guts to come and face us. How he can get away with that is beyond me.”

As HES has not yet formally entered into the insolvency process, staff can only claim for a maximum of £508 per week from the Redundancy Payment Service if they have worked for at least two continuous years under a formal contract of employment, and must wait to claim any fuller amount. Staff were last paid in November; estimates of the average amount sue is around £3,000, with some staff with many years of service potentially being owed up to £15,000.

Contact details provided by the company for comment last Saturday were unreachable on Friday but Mr Pettigrew, speaking to BBC Radio Scotland said:

I will never throw in the towel…I have been fighting for this business for 23 years. I owe it to everyone to make sure this business survives…in 23 years I have paid every worker during that time and believe it or not I am still fighting for the workers, I am still fighting for this business and I will do that till the very end until there is no breath left in me.”

If you are thinking about taking insolvency action against another individual or company but are worried about the costs involved, Advantage Litigation Services have the skills and expertise to help you find a way of funding commercial litigation without risking your personal finances or those of your business. Click here to contact us today or call 0800 160 1298 to see how we can help.

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