Willie Rennie has appealed to Philip Day to reverse the decision
EDINBURGH Woollen Mill made a “cruel decision” when making five employees at the Cupar Deer Centre in Fife
redundant, claims an MSP.
Willie Rennie, who represents North East Fife and is leader of the Scottish Liberal Democrats, has tried to help the workers.
After multiple attempts to speak to the company failed, Mr Rennie tweeted about this and got a response of a refusal to reconsider.
Owner Philip Day owns a multitude of companies, including the Edinburgh Woollen Mill Group, Peacocks, Jaeger, Jane Norman, Austin Reed and other high-street retailers.
Mr Rennie: “I appealed to billionaire tax exile Philip Day to reverse the decision of Edinburgh Woollen Mill to make the five staff redundant.
“I tried for more than a week to speak to the company but they responded only when I posted a message on twitter.
“When I eventually got through, they refused to reverse the decision.
“The owner is wealthy and has a net worth of more than £1 billion.
“My five constituents are not billionaires but they worked hard at the centre.
“When businesses were told to shut down, the government stepped in by offering to pay most of the staff’s wages.
“The UK government even said that anyone made redundant could be taken back on and put on furlough.
“The five redundancies could have been reversed without costing Philip Day a single penny. But EWM still refused to budge.
“I appeal to the company to have a change of heart for what all reasonable people would regard as a cruel decision.”
A former employee at EWM’s Kingmoor warehouse, who had worked for the company for only 18 months, said his redundancy “came out of the blue”.
The 24-year-old, who didn’t want to be named, said he was given a week’s notice, as specified in his contract.
But he had contacted ACAS (Advisory, Conciliation and Service) because he was unhappy with what had happened to him.
He said: “I joined the company in September 2018. It was a full-time, permanent job.
“On the day I lost my job I was taken into the office at 9am and they read out a prepared statement.
“The warehouse director and one of the managers was present but there was no one with me. I was on my own.
“They told me that, because of the current situation, they were making redundancies and I was one. They later gave me the statement in writing.
“The government said it would pay for 80 per cent of our wages so it was a very shocking decision to make redundancies rather than wait for the government scheme.
“The decision was more about saving money than thinking about their staff.”
He did not get a redundancy payment because he had worked there for under two years, the threshold for redundancy.
Fortunately, he has found another job in Carlisle.
He added: “I’m asking them to go through the ACAS process because they’ve made more than 20 people redundant at the same time without going through the 30-day consultation procedure.
“EWM has not answered my question. There’s been no response at all.”
He says he’s taking advice and believes he may have to go through a small claims court for the payment. A representative of ACAS is dealing with it.
The E&L Advertiser asked EWM whether the redundancy process was based on the number of people at each of its sites or who worked for the company as a whole.
A spokesperson said: “It’s calculated at each individual site. I believe it was 19 people at HQ, sadly, and sub-10 additionally at Kingmoor. They are treated as separate sites.”