herald

Sunday 17 December 2017

Bust firm leaves axed workers in dark over wages

A COMPANY that suddenly went into court-appointed liquidation is refusing to say whether its staff will be paid their back wages for this month.

Swords-based Acuman Facilities Management axed almost 90 staff this week, only two weeks after director Wilton Farrelly circulated an email saying the company was looking forward to "exciting developments".

Workers were shocked at the sudden announcement that the company was closing last Friday - the same day the High Court appointed a provisional liquidator.

unavoidable

Acuman provided corporate support services to clients including Bus Eireann, Asda and TK Maxx. Its parent company was Belfast-based H&J Martin.

The High Court heard sworn statements from company director Derek Martin, who said the appointment of the liquidator was "regrettably unavoidable" due to a collapse in finances in recent years.

He said the business was no longer economically viable.

Staff are furious, claiming they worked right up to Friday and had not received any pay for October.

Staff member Gosia Vor-kowski, who has been in Ireland for 13 years, told the Herald she had even quit a job recently to join Acuman.

"I joined Acuman on September 22. I thought it was a good company and stable," she said. "I asked in the interview and they said it was the best time for me to join, that the company was very strong.

"I got paid for the week or so in September, but the wages for October are gone."

The company has stonewalled questions from the Herald about whether the staff will get paid for their work for October.

"Acuman is now in the control of the liquidator. This is now a matter for the liquidator," a short statement said.

Tom Kavanagh, of Deloitte, is the High Court-appointed liquidator, but he was unavailable yesterday, according to the consultancy firm.

enthusiasm

A colleague of Mr Kavanagh's refused to say if the staff would get paid for their work or what they should do.

Meanwhile, it is understood that H&J Martin has set up a separate office in Santry.

Former staff members of Acuman said that around seven of their colleagues have been moved to the Santry premises. However, Acuman declined to comment on staff redeployments.

The optimistic email sent before the closure last week has particularly angered staff.

It read: "Our work together between our businesses has only just started and I appreciate the support and enthusiasm that everyone has shown to date."

A further date for the liquidation case in the High Court has been set for hearing on November 17.

hnews@herald.ie

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