Axed biscuit firm workers' pay win

Staff at a former biscuit factory - sacked just days before Christmas - have been told they are entitled to a payout from administrators.

Friday, 13th October 2017, 10:51 am
Updated Monday, 11th December 2017, 9:01 pm
Rivington Biscuits closed just before Christmas last year following a catastrophic cashflow failure leaving 99 workers out of a job and out of pocket

Angry workers at Hindley-based Rivington Biscuits, famous for making own-brand pink wafers, were left frustrated after the firm suddenly ceased trading last December.

Several claimed they were owed hundreds of pounds in lost wages.

But now an employment judge has ruled that 71 members of the former workforce qualify for 90 days notice pay from the outfit, which was owned at the time by Dutch confectioners Van Delft, Rivington’s parent company.

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Their joint claim for protective awards, following their sackings, was dealt with at a tribunal hearing in Manchester, which heard how nearly 100 workers were summarily dismissed by Rivington, and a further 28 lost their jobs the following February.

Employment judge Jonathan Parking said staff, who were not represented by an independent union or trade organisation, had been dismissed “with no warning or consultation”.

He was told that the administrators were called in by mid-December after the company run out of raw materials and was said to have no further funds to pay out wages.

Ruling their claims had succeeded, Judge Parkin added: “No consultation was carried out before the first redundancy dismissals were put into effect.”

Administrators for the firm have been ordered to supply the names, addresses and National Insurance numbers of all qualifying staff, along with their termination dates, so the final awards can be calculated.

The tribunal heard that the company’s administrators had not filed a defence, in respect of the claims, but had acknowledged they were aware of the proceedings via email and consented to the claims going ahead.

Lawyers acting for the former staff also wrote to the tribunal, withdrawing all other action except the protective claims, back in August.

The firm manufactured pink wafers for a number of leading supermarkets, as well as marketing its own Pink Panther brand.

Administrators Russell Cash and Ben Woolrych blamed “particularly challenging trading conditions over the past year”, including the falling value of the pound against the euro, for affecting profits and cashflow.

They said a skeleton staff had been retained into 2017 to fulfill existing orders and while attempts were made to market the venture to potential new buyers.

A total of 99 workers were made redundant after a Wigan-based biscuit manufacturer called in administrators. A sustained deterioration in trading conditions and significant additional pricing costs since the summer following the sharp fall in the value of the pound, left the business facing unsustainable cash-flow pressure.