The former employees of Asset Co were left “reeling” by the news that the doors were to close on their Lisfannon call centre. Many of the 29 employees forced out of work referred to the “shock” of the situation and “how it just doesn’t feel real”...”being left in limboland.”
The workers have been left without wages and told it might be two years before the Irish authorities settle their redundancy claims, as no redundancy will be paid by either the administrators or the company who now handle the contract, Babcock.
Administrators for Asset Co UK, KPMG, however issued a statement claiing that they had not been appointed to handle the ROI division.
The centre employs 29 people, who, until Tuesday, handled maintenance calls and support services for the London Fire Brigade 24 hours a day, seven days a week.
On Tuesday administrators from KPMG walked into the Lisfannon building “unannounced” and informed employees that they no longer handled the contract. They also demanded the information files at the centre.
In a statement to the Derry Journal “Rob Croxen, joint KPMG administrator said: “We are disappointed to hear of the uncertainties facing staff at Assetco Managed Services (ROI) Limited following the administration yesterday of Premier FireServe Limited and Premier FireServe Engineering Limited. Unfortunately, as Assetco Managed Services (ROI) Limited was not part of our appointment as administrators, we are unable to comment on issues around any possible redundancies, which are currently the responsibility of the directors of Assetco Managed Services (ROI) Limited.”
The ‘Journal’ attempted to speak to local directors but they have failed to return our calls.
All IT, HR and finance services have been switched from Lisfannon to a centre in Park Royal, London. The 29 local employees were also informed that their wages for November would not be paid, nor would they be entitled to redundancy pay.
“We’re out two weeks wages at least,” said one employee who didn’t wish to be named.
“Not only that but now the Irish taxpayer will have to pay our redundancy because an English PFI company on behalf of the London Fire Brigade will not treat us fairly.”
“We worked in good faith from the beginning of the month and then they just shut up shop, without any consultation, without even a phone call. There has not a word from those I worked with every day on the phone for six years.”
The London based colleagues of Asset Co will be transferred to the new company under UK TUPE legislation, however that does not help the Buncrana employees.
“The unfairness of the whole thing is shocking,” said Donna Gill. “We expected it a little down the line but we believed as it was a PFI Enterprise for a public body in the UK, we would be looked after. The UK employees are being looked after, offered new vans and equipment, we have been shown the door without our wages. I handled vehicle servicing and repair for the London Fire Brigade, the core of the service was here in this building and they just ripped it out.
“I have two small children aged four and two and thankfully I haven’t spent above my means in terms of Christmas. We’re really going to have to knuckle down now. It is looking bleak. Christmas is looking bleak. We don’t even know if our benefit claims will be completed before 2013.”
Caolan MacHugh referred to the situation as: “A nightmare, it is a shock. I really feel for those who have worked here, given six years of their life to the company and the fire service and they’ve now been blindsided with this.”
Roisin Coyle from Carndonagh was: “Absolutely speechless. What are 29 people going to do with the job market the way it is locally? I’m one of the luckier ones, I have no kids, no mortage so I’m immediately thinking of moving. I have to leave my home as I’ll not get a job in Inishowen.”
Pulling no punches, former Fire Desk Supervisor, Johnny Lynch, said: ““We are totally ****** off.”