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Minister's backing for axed workers in fight to get paid

MINISTER for Children, James Reilly, has thrown his support behind a group of workers who were made redundant just two weeks after they were told about "exciting developments" at the company.

Swords-based Acuman Facilities Management axed almost 90 staff last week and has refused to say if they will be paid for their work in October.

The High Court has appointed liquidator Tom Kavanagh, of Deloitte, to wind up the company, but the consultancy firm has also refused to comment on whether the wages will be paid.

But now, the workers have been given a boost as Mr Reilly, who is also a TD for the area, has supported their fight to get paid the wages owed.

"Based on reports, the nearly 90 workers have been treated very poorly and have been shocked at the manner of the closure of the company," Minister Reilly told the Herald.

"Not long after being given a positive assessment of the future of the company by a senior executive the staff were given the grim news of the closure and the loss of their jobs.

"I am concerned for them. I am concerned for their families," he added.

Mr Reilly said that he contacted his Government colleague Richard Bruton's Department of Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation over the situation.

Shocked

Mr Reilly said that the National Employment Rights Authority has been asked to contact the workers to make sure they have access to any employment rights information that they may need.

"It has been suggested that staff may be owed wages. I call on Acuman to ensure that workers are provided with all of their entitlements speedily," he said.

Acuman was a subsidiary company of successful Belfast-based H&J Martin, and staff believe it has the money to pay them the wages they are owed for their work in October.

"We were in contact with the liquidator and we've been told we're not getting paid, that we'd have to apply through the insolvency fund," former staff member Catherine Whelan said.

She added that the staff were certain that H&J Martin had the resources to pay the wages.

On October 10, just two weeks before the closure, Acuman director Wilton Farrelly circulated an email to staff saying the company was facing a bright future.

hnews@herald.ie


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