Christmas jobs threat at Camden

A UNION has claimed that workers at an Antrim factory shedding up to 80 jobs are being offered ‘the bare legal minimum statutory redundancy payments by management and pay is low’.

Just weeks before Christmas, the jobs could be at risk at the Camden Group plant in Antrim.

The family-owned firm at the Steeple Road Industrial Estate employs around 580 people, with approximately 466 working in the production of uPVC frame products,

An internal memo sent to staff has cited 'a sudden and unexpected' reduction in orders from one of its key customers, Bradford-based SafeGlaze.

In October, Niamac Developments (trading as SafeGlaze UK) was placed into administration.

The administrators said Niamac Developments has ceased trading immediately and regrettably all 132 employees have been made redundant.

The Camden memo read:

“The company now finds itself in the unfortunate position where it has to announce that employees are at risk of redundancy,

“It is appreciated that this may come as a shock, and the company would like to express that this is a very regrettable and difficult decision.

“The company is awaiting receipt of further information from the customer, however, we anticipate that approximately 80 employees will be at risk of redundancy within various departments across the business.”

The memo announced the start of a formal consultation period, which is expected to last at least 30 days.

It continued: “This is a lot to take in and there will be a lot of questions arising as a result of this announcement. The forthcoming consultation process will give us time to discuss and address the questions you may have about the company's proposals.

“The company appreciates your continued hard work during this difficult period.”

In the absence of trade union recognition at the factory, workers being made redundant will receiving statutory redundancy payments only.

Individual union members are being encouraged to contact officials to secure their rights and non-union workers are being encouraged to join up 'to protect themselves going forward'.

Confirming that Unite the union is willing to engage with management at window frame maker, Camden Group in Antrim, in mitigating the impact of eighty job losses, Unite Regional Officer, George Brash said: “We understand from management at the Camden group in Antrim that they will be making up to eighty workers redundant as a result of a sudden loss of a supply contract.

“This represents a very substantial proportion of the approximately 500-strong workforce in the company and will be a severe blow to the workers affected.

“Unfortunately Unite does not hold formal union recognition at the company and so our ability to robustly defend workers’ interests is curtailed; however, we are willing to engage with management to ensure that the number of compulsory redundancies required is minimised through relocation to alternative sites within the group.

“Any members of Unite who have been affected by this situation are asked to contact the union if they are in doubt of their rights.

“More widely we are encouraging non-union members to join Unite in order to protect themselves going forwards.

“Workers in the group are being offered the bare legal minimum statutory redundancy payments by management and pay is low.

“The best way for workers to defend themselves is through joining a fightback union like Unite.”

In 2016 the Camden Group announced the closure of Camden Glass in Benburb, Co Tyrone, with the loss of 65 jobs. Around 50 jobs were created at a new plant in Antrim as a result.

The firm recovered from a pre-tax loss of almost £700,000 in 2016 to post a pre-tax profit of £1.4m last year. The company also increased turnover by 13.5% from £38.7m to £43.9m over the same period.

The Camden Group did not respond to a request for a comment at time of going to print.

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