Nearly 100 workers employed at Aylesford Newsprint in Kent have been awarded approximately £750,000 for being dismissed without consultation, Unite, the country’s largest union, has announced.
However, because the Larkfield-based company went into administration early last year, Unite’s members, who are classed as unsecured creditors, will only receive £321,000 of that figure.
Although this may be boosted by the sale of the company’s land, expected to raise several million pounds, which could push that figure upwards.
In the claim, which was supported by Unite Legal Services, the employment tribunal decided that the workers should receive a ‘protective’ award because the company dismissed 20 or more employees without proper consultation with their representative, in this case, Unite the Union.
In an insolvency situation, employees can claim up to eight weeks’ pay arrears capped at the statutory maximum (in this case £464 per week) from the government’s redundancy fund.
Unite regional officer, Tim Elliott, said: “The total value of the ‘protective’ award to our members is about £750,000. However, as the company is insolvent it is unlikely we will recover the full amount. The £321,000 will be paid to our members from the government’s redundancy fund. Without Unite Legal Services this would not have been possible.
“The sale of the company’s land will raise several million pounds and so it is possible that our members may also recover additional cash on top of that paid by the fund, but it won’t be the full amount.
“While we know that our members won’t get the full amount they deserve and are owed, Unite’s legal services team battled to get them the maximum amount possible under current legalisation.”
Eighty workers who were dismissed on 24 February 2015 should each have received eight weeks’ pay. They are expected to receive in the region of £3,700 each - a total of £296,000.
A further 18 workers were dismissed on 30 April 2015. As the 90 day protected period started on 24 February they were entitled to 25 days’ pay, these members should each receive three weeks’ pay from the redundancy fund, which will amount to about £1,300 per person - £25,000 in total.
Aylesford Newsprint fell victim of the dramatic downward trend in newspaper sales, and when it went into administration more than 230 jobs were lost.