The boss of a clinical waste firm has insisted he is “still fighting” for workers – despite staff having to turn to foodbanks after not being paid when the firm ceased trading.
Healthcare Environmental Services managing director Garry Pettirgew claimed he was “distraught” at the situation some of its former staff were now in after being made redundant.
Earlier in 2018 the firm was embroiled in a clinical waste stockpiling controversy, with bosses forced to deny claims that human body parts were among items caught up in a backlog at its sites.
Speaking on BBC Radio Scotland’s Good Morning Scotland programme Mr Pettigrew insisted: “I will never throw in the towel. I have been fighting for this business for 23 years. I owe it to everyone to make sure this business survives.
“In 23 years I have paid every worker during that time and believe it or not I am still fighting for the workers, I am still fighting for this business and I will do that till the very end until there is no breath left in me.”
He spoke out after Sheryl Alexander, 25, told the Daily Record newspaper she did “not have a penny to my name since I did not get paid” since the company ceased trading.
She said: “I have worked hard in there for three-and-a-half years. Just like all the staff, you expect a fair wage for a fair job.”
HES, which is based in North Lanarkshire, is thought to have employed about 150 people at its Shotts depot, and a further 350 across the UK.
The Salvation Army in Shotts has now stepped in, helping former workers with foodbank and advice services.
Ms Alexander added: “It is absolutely terrible when you think that days ago we were all working hard and now we’re here at a foodbank and advice shop.
“Surely we are entitled to our wages, never mind redundancy. Surely we are due that.”
Mr Pettigrew insisted the government would “have to step in and help” with statutory redundancy payments.
But as the firm has not been placed into administration, it is uncertain if the state Redundancy Payments Service will be able to make payouts.
Mr Pettigrew said there were “at least four or five” interested buyers for the company, but claimed they were being put off by the UK Government.
He alleged: “Buyers have been kept away from us by the UK Government, they keep telling the buyers to wait till we go under.
“My job is to make sure the business survives and that is what I have been trying to do.
“It’s very unfortunate what has happened to the business, that the business obviously has ceased trading and that has meant we are unable to pay the latest staff wages.”