More than £17,000 raised for UK workers laid off on Christmas Eve

More than £17,000 (€18,900) has been raised for workers at a computer components plant in the UK who were laid off on Christmas Eve.

A total of 310 staff at the Kaiam plant in Livingston, West Lothian, were told they were being made redundant immediately on December 24.

Those who had been laid off have been told they will not be paid and will have to claim their last wages through the Insolvency Service.

A crowdfunder set up to help the families has raised almost double its target of £10,000 (€11,146) in just three days.

Mhairi Duff, who set up the fundraising page, wrote: “Employees of Kaiam have been left with no wages over the Christmas period.

“The community have come together amazingly to help ease Christmas a little but these employees still have bills to pay and families to feed.

“Every penny is hugely appreciated. Thank you.”

Administrators KPMG told the staff the redundancies were due to declining work levels, high operational costs and lack of customer orders at the factory, which manufactures optical receivers.

In a statement, they said they recognised redundancies at this time of year are particularly difficult and their main focus is ensuring support is available to those laid off.

The remaining 28 employees have been retained to help the joint administrators explore a sale of the business.

Meanwhile, Labour has called for an inquiry into government grants given to companies such as Kaiam Europe and Kaiam UK.

Kaiam announced in 2014 it had been given an £850,000 (€947,453) Scottish Enterprise grant to expand the Livingston site by moving production facilities there from China.

Labour’s Neil Findlay has written to the convener of Holyrood’s Economy, Energy and Fair Work committee, Gordon Lindhurst, calling for an inquiry into government support.

Mr Findlay wants the inquiry to examine how government grants, loans and other financial support are handed out, what conditions apply and whether or not this is a good use of public money.

He also wants the inquiry to discover how such money is recouped if the business awarded support fails to not fulfil its obligations relating to the initial award of the grant, and to look at how accountable companies and their directors are for the money given.

His letter says the actions of Kaiam are a “brutal blow to the individuals and families concerned and to the local economy”.

The individuals affected by this announcement are our immediate priority

Scottish business minister Jamie Hepburn said he is “very concerned” about Kaiam going into administration.

He said Scottish Enterprise has been working closely with the firm but “unfortunately, a solution could not be found to turn the company’s situation around”.

He added: “Scottish Enterprise will work with the administrators to understand the potential options for the business going forward and explore all possibilities to rescue the jobs.

“The individuals affected by this announcement are our immediate priority and we recognise the important role they play in our economy.

“We will do everything within our power to help those affected.”

He said the Scottish Government’s Partnership Action for Continuing Employment programme stands ready to help the workforce with skills development and employability support.

- Press Association

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