17/12/2007

Cold Comfort As Haulage Workers Paid

It will be some comfort for staff at a County Antrim haulage firm who lost their jobs when the company went bankrupt earlier this year to have now received money they were owed in unpaid wages.

Cloughmills-based Reid Transport Ltd called in PricewaterhouseCoopers to act as administrators last month after attempts to sell the company failed.

The company had closed amid controversy last month after the employees staged a blockade over unpaid wages.

However, the dispute was brought to an end after PWC agreed to pay the workers before Christmas – promising the 200 staff would get the money before the festive celebration.

Now, a spokesperson for the ex-employees said they have indeed been paid as promised.

In the final act of the tragedy, the firm's fleet of more than 50 lorries and trucks will be sold at public auction before the end of the year.

Meanwhile, among the details to emerge since the shut down has been Reid Transport latest accounts, which show it to be £3.2m in debt in 2005.

However, this was covered up, as just five weeks ago the company's Managing Director, Liam Reid described rumours that it was in trouble as "malicious and unfounded".

Indeed, in August, Reid's announced on its website that it had just opened a new depot in Buckinghamshire to cope with increased volumes of freight.

Staff even saw how during the final weeks, their workload had significantly increased with drivers working longer hours and delivering bigger loads.

The administrators, PricewaterhouseCoopers, examined the company's books and have reported to the Department of Enterprise Trade and Investment.

The Assembly Economy Minister Nigel Dodds said as the time that as much help as possible would be given to the 200 workers who have been made redundant in helping secure any payments due as quickly as possible.

(BMcC)

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