MPs have pledged to do everything possible to investigate the collapse of parcel delivery firm City Link.
Members of the Scottish Affairs Committee met with a number of workers and sub-contractors who lost out when the courier company called in the administrators.
MPs on the committee are due to question Mick Cash, general secretary of the Rail, Maritime and Transport (RMT) union, in Westminster tomorrow, while the Business, Innovation and Skills select committee is pressing UK Business Secretary Vince Cable to investigate what happened at City Link.
Shadow Scottish secretary Margaret Curran pledged: “We are going to use every single platform we can to continue to raise this, because I think a lot of people think this is finished, but we cannot let this happen again and we need to reassure people we will do that.”
City Link, which had 2,727 employees across the UK, called in administrators from professional services firm EY after years of ”substantial losses”.
Many of the company’s staff found out about its collapse on Christmas Day, with administrators announcing on New Year’s Eve that there would 2,356 job losses.
The company directly employed 165 people in Scotland.
Pamela Nash, Labour MP for Airdrie and Shotts, said: ” There’s never a good time to get this news but to get it out of the blue at Christmas time and then confirmed at New Year was the worst possible time.
“We are devastated for our constituents and appalled at what has happened, and we will do everything we can to investigate what has happened.”
Mick Ward, who had been the RMT representative at City Link’s Motherwell depot, told the MPs: “It’s been over a fortnight now since the announcement; I thought maybe my anger and bitterness would have died down a little bit, but if anything it’s getting stronger.”
He welcomed today’s meeting in Glasgow “t o try to keep the pressure on and get some answers” from bosses at the firm.
Mr Ward added: “If it only means it never ever happens to other people, that would be something.”
He said: ” I went down to London two weeks prior to the announcement where I met the management as there had been concerns raised that the company was having problems. They assured me that everything was OK.”
Gordon Martin, RMT regional organiser for Scotland, stated: “We believe a full investigation has to be carried out.
“We will be calling for a full, forensic investigation to get to the bottom of this for these workers in particular, but also for other workers across the UK.
“It’s far too easy under UK employment legislation for this kind of thing to happen.”
Scottish Affairs Committee chair Ian Davidson said: ” We’ve obviously been very concerned about what has happened to City Link workers – the way in which they have been dismissed, the shortage of notice, the fact that the notice was coming out on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day.
“There were rumours of the company closing beforehand but the employees were kept on working and given assurances, as were the sub-contractors, that everything was OK.”
Mr Davidson said: “What we’ll try to do is identify what we believe is wrong, then we will get to the stage of identifying solutions, we will want to hear from the RMT at UK level what the overall pattern is.”
Labour MP Ann McKechin, a member of the Business, Innovation and Skills select committee, said City Link did “not appear to have followed good practice”.
She said: ” What is quite unusual is that the UK Government have confirmed to me in a written answer they were not aware of the problems with the company until the Christmas holiday period.
“Quite often companies, if they are having financial difficulties, would normally alert government departments so they can make available a range of services for employees who may have to cope with redundancy and issues about re-training.
“It does appear as if the Scottish and UK Governments had no advance notice, and, given this was a holiday period, it has meant their response has been delayed, and that has had an impact on employees.”
She added: ” We spoke to a small contractor and they were due to receive a payment on the Friday before Christmas, which would have been a substantial payment given this is the busiest time of year, and they were told the payment was being deferred.
“That caused them considerable alarm but they had been assured payment would be received and they worked right up to the Christmas holiday period, so that does raise questions to me about why the company were deferring payment on the Friday before Christmas.
“Were they trading insolvently? – and that’s a question that the administrators must fully investigate in the report which they are obliged to submit to the UK Government in the next few weeks.
“The Business Committee has written to Vince Cable last week, asking him whether or not he will be carrying out an investigation and the Secretary of State is due to come before our committee next month, so I anticipate this will be an issue that our committee will continue to pursue.”
Scottish Business Secretary Fergus Ewing said: “The Scottish Government is committed to providing support to the former City Link staff and subcontractors over this difficult period through our work with local agencies and key partners.
“Following my meeting with the trade union RMT representatives last week, we have set up support events for the former City Link employees through our initiative for responding to redundancy situations, Partnership Action for Continuing Employment (Pace). Pace aims to minimise the time people affected by redundancy are out of work and I hope that those affected will find this useful.”
Meetings offering help for City LInk workers are due to take place in the coming days in Motherwell, Livingston, Aberdeen, Glenrothes and Glasgow.
Mr Ewing said many of City Link’s largest customers had already made other arrangements for deliveries, and “therefore our main focus is to provide assistance to the people who have now lost their jobs at the worst possible time of year”.