WORKERS who have been left on the breadline since an iconic Glasgow bakery went bust are readying themselves for a legal battle to secure their ‘missing’ redundancy cash.

Staff who were previously employed by Mortons Rolls have told how they have been struggling to pay their bills after losing their livelihoods when the firm went into liquidation in March.

Alan Love and David Smith, who had a combined service of 45 years with the firm, are having to survive on benefits of just £84 a week after a wrangle erupted about who is responsible for redundancy payments.

The government's Redundancy Payment Service (RPS) has told ex-employees that they will receive nothing from their coffers after ruling the firm was still solvent when it was rescued by angel investors. They claim a TUPE transfer took place, meaning that the roles were legally transferred to new owners, Phoenix Volt, who insist they are not responsible, as well as claiming they have the documents to prove that a TUPE transaction never took place.

Alan, who worked as a delivery driver for Mortons for 32 years, told our sister title the Glasgow Times how he has been left struggling to make ends meet since losing his job.  

Clydebank Post: Alan LoveAlan Love (Image: Colin Mearns)

The 62-year-old from Dennistoun said: “The past few months have been a nightmare. I devoted more than three decades of my life to the company and was relying on that redundancy money to get by until I found another job.

“There’s been little to no communication - we were basically handed a brown envelope with a week’s wages inside and told the factory was closing. We’ve been totally hung out to dry and now our only course of action is a legal one.”

The workers’ fight is being taken up by leading Glasgow law firm Thompsons.

Solicitor Paul Kissen is representing those who have lost their jobs and says he believes they have a strong case.

He added: “The employees were all shocked when they received letters from the Redundancy Payments Service telling them they would not get their money because they had been TUPE transferred to a company they had never heard of.

“As far as they were concerned, they were all made redundant on March 7. We have seen no evidence that there was a TUPE transfer and have asked the RPS to give us details of how they came to that conclusion. Unless the RPS reverses its decision, the employees will all have to wait until an employment tribunal decides whether there was a transfer. This might take many more months.

“The crucial point at the moment is that all the employees get in touch with us if they have not done so already because the time limit for lodging most claims expires on Tuesday.”

Alan says the workers are blameless but have been left to bear the brunt of the firm’s initial collapse.

He added “I thought I’d be with Mortons until I retired, now I’m living off Universal Credit. Every week I’m worried about having enough left to buy food after I’ve paid my bills.

“I’ve worked all my days and never thought I’d end up in a position like this. We’ve been left on the scrap-heap.”

Alan says help from union, GMB Scotland, has been vital in workers finding a path to recover the redundancy they are owed.

He added: “I’m taking this all the way and will do whatever it takes to get what I’m rightly owed. I won’t give up until the injustice is resolved. Folk are rightly angry that no-one wants to take responsibility for what we are legally entitled to.”

GMB Scotland is backing Carol Monaghan MP for Glasgow North, who has written to the Secretary of State for Business and Trade calling for an urgent resolution.

Her letter reads: “Phoenix Volt Ltd claim that Morton’s Rolls is not a new company and therefore no compensation is owed. This claim is disputed by the legal team managing the Protective Award. The result is that more than 100 former employees have fallen through the gaps in this process, with neither the UK Government nor Phoenix Volt Ltd taking responsibility for these redundancies.

“The UK Government’s Insolvency Service has ruled that former employees are not entitled to redundancy pay as their employment was transferred to Phoenix Volt Ltd before Mortons Rolls Ltd went into insolvency.

“This means that in the midst of the cost-of-living crisis, more than 100 people are now jobless without the redundancy pay, loss of notice compensation, holiday pay, pension payments, and national insurance contributions to which they are entitled. I am deeply concerned by this state of affairs and I would request an opportunity to meet with you to ensure swift intervention in supporting these former staff at Mortons Rolls.”

Clydebank Post: Mortons RollsMortons Rolls (Image: Newsquest)

GMB Scotland organiser David Hume says that the welfare of workers must come first.

He added: “The finger-pointing between the agencies and the new owners does nothing to help those workers who have lost their jobs through no fault of their own during an unprecedented cost-of-living crisis.

“Liability for these payments must be established as a matter of urgency and the money paid as quickly as possible. Many politicians were happy to welcome the new owners when Mortons went under, we are glad that MP Carol Monaghan has not forgotten about the workers cut adrift without a penny.”

We previously told how a consortium of local businesspeople, led by entrepreneur John McIlvogue, managed to secure 110 posts at the bakery. Mr McIlvogue vowed at the time that he would work to get all 230 people back on the payroll.

Clydebank Post: John McIlvogueJohn McIlvogue (Image: newsquest)

He insisted that he will do everything in his power to make sure staff get what they are entitled to - but reiterated that the new owners believe they are not responsible for the unpaid redundancy settlements.

Mr McIlvogue added: “Staff were let go before we took over and we have documents to back this up. I really feel for the workers, the way the insolvency was handled before we stepped in was appalling.

“There’s no doubt they have been treated badly, but we are not responsible for issues around TUPE, unfair dismissal and redundancy pay. I will however do everything in my power to help them get what they are entitled to.”

David Smith worked as a delivery driver at the bakery for 13 years and says that he has been left relying on handouts from family and friends to survive.

He said: “People who worked for Mortons deserve better. We have been left to struggle on a pittance, left penniless, when collectively we are due tens of thousands of pounds.

Clydebank Post: David SmithDavid Smith (Image: Colin Mearns)

“Apart from one week’s wages back in March, I was left with absolutely no cash until I was put on Universal Credit. If it wasn’t for family and friends helping me out, I don’t know where I’d be.

“I'm planning to take legal action to get what I’m entitled to. Someone needs to hold those responsible for our redundancy to account.”