Redundant employees of a North Lanarkshire-based clinical waste firm who lost their jobs a week ago are turning to food banks as the crisis escalates, it has been claimed.
Approximately 150 former staff of Healthcare Environmental Services (HES) in Shotts were told by the company to claim statutory redundancy from the Redundancy Payment Service, a UK-wide scheme for employees of insolvent companies, as it was unable to pay them. However, the staff have been unable to start the process because they need a reference number from an insolvency practitioner.
It is understood that staff have not been paid since the start of December last year.
HES lost its contract with NHS Scotland and 17 NHS trusts in England after it emerged it had been stockpiling clinical waste.
The company, which had responsibility for disposing of clinical waste from every hospital, GP’s surgery, dental practice and pharmacy in Scotland, cited a shortage of incinerators for its problems rather than its actions.
One former driver for the company, who did not wish to give his name, said: “We need some help here. We are stuck. It’s too big a job for the insolvency companies...People are skint, they are going to food banks, living on the breadline and really struggling.
“They are stressed and being treated for anxiety and I know families who are not using electricity and sleeping in one room to keep heating bills down.
“We need someone to help us.”
Other staff spoke of borrowing money to pay their rent.
A group of former drivers for HES organised a meeting in the town to decide what action to take to break the deadlock.
The meeting was also attended by staff from Skills Development Scotland which spearheads the Scottish Government’s response to redundancy situations and by representatives of Partnership Action for Continuing Employment (PACE).
A Scottish Government spokesman said: “This will be a very difficult time for the affected employees, their family and the local community.
“We offered PACE support to HES more than a month ago which was not taken up by the company.
“This means while we will be organising and promoting further employment events we continue to rely on the company to contact their former employees as we have not been provided with their details.”