MP’s call for answers after Havelock collapse

Havelock went into administration last week.
Havelock went into administration last week.

Kirkcaldy and Cowdenbeath MP Lesley Laird has called for a complete breakdown of events which led to Havelock’s shock administration announcement last week.

The Kirkcaldy firm’s workforce – told on Thursday that 247 jobs faced immediate redundancy – reacted with fury after the jobs blow was leaked in a press statement beforehand.

Havelock, which is based at Mitchelston Industrial Estate, was bought out by investment group Rcapital just last year, saving 300 jobs but, according to reports, had been beset with difficulties since.

Ms Laird said: “The speed with which events unfolded at Havelock last week raises ten times more questions than it does answers and I intend to get to the bottom of what happened – or didn’t happen – in the months beforehand.

“Workers are rightly furious that they’ve not been paid outstanding wages and I’m pressing on Rcapital, and the Scottish Government to make urgent efforts to right that wrong.”

Lesley, who met with GMB today (Tuesday), shared the union’s concerns about the way Havelock was managed and the haste at which staff were dismissed.

She added: “We also discussed how imperative it was to find a buyer interested in the business as a going concern and not allow this to become an asset stripping exercise, particularly given the amount of public money I believe was invested in the site.”

The MP has written to Derek Mackay MSP, Cabinet Secretary for Finance, asking how long Scottish Enterprise were aware of the Havelock’s difficulties, and whether the agency had made attempts to prevent the company going into administration.

Ms Laird has also written to Rcapital asking whether it closed down negotiations with a potential new buyer which could have thrown Havelock a vital lifeline.

She said: “Cash flow was obviously a problem for Havelock leading up to PwC being appointed administrators last week which is why I’ve asked Rcapital when it was first aware of trading difficulties and what steps, if any, it took to engage help from the Scottish Government, Fife Council and trade unions.

“There’s also still a vital question remaining over how much remuneration is due from the Robertsons’ contract. Did Rcapital make any attempts to speed up payments from Robertsons for work already done?”

Lesley added: “Havelock’s workers should be receiving all support available to find secure work, of course, and I’m encouraged, having spoken to PwC this morning, that efforts are being made to ensure redundancy payments are paid at the earliest opportunity.

“Given the way they’ve been treated, they also deserve answers and I’m determined they get them.”

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