Redundancy fears and wages owed to staff at Fife recycling plant, MSP says

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Workers at a Glenrothes recycling plant which has gone into administration have been told they won’t be made redundant because this makes the business more attractive to potential buyers, it has been claimed - and some say they are due a month’s wages.

The claims surrounding the fate of Glenrothes-based Yes Recycling (Fife) were made by Jenny Gilruth MSP for the town who pledged her support to staff facing an uncertain future.

The start of the art plant only opened its doors at Whitehill Industrial Estate seven months ago, but has run into cash flow problems after failing to hit production capacity.

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Yes Recycling (Fife) was co-owned by Morrisons supermarket and had £1.6m of investment from food firm Nestle to take low grade plastics, including sweet wrappers and crisps packets and recycle them. The aim was to turn items such as KitKat wrappers and Rowntree confectionery into building materials at the Scottish branch of a UK-wide company which is based in Buckinghamshire.

Yes Recycling Fife (Pic: Morrisons)Yes Recycling Fife (Pic: Morrisons)
Yes Recycling Fife (Pic: Morrisons)

Ms Gilruth has written directly to Yes Recycling, the administrator Grant Thornton, and the Scottish Government’s Minister for Small Business to raise her concerns and urged them to do more to support these workers, including paying them their full wages.

She said: “This is an incredibly distressing time for the 60 workers at the plant that are now facing an uncertain future. My immediate priority is supporting these workers, as they face this uncertainty amidst the current cost of living crisis.

“It is deeply concerning to hear from local employees that they were advised they would not be made redundant, as this made the business more attractive for potential buyers, but that they were not being paid.

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“According to these constituents, they are now due a month’s wage from the company that has not been paid. This has many of them worried and distressed that they will be unable to pay their bills this month.”

Yes Recycling (Fife) operates a 15,000-tonne per annum plastics recycling facility, but struggled to get the plant up to capacity and, last week, Grant Thornton was appointed as administrator.

Administrators Grant Thornton are now seeking a buyer who can retain the business and staffing.

She has written to Yes Recycling, the administrator, and the Scottish Government’s Minister for Small Business to raise her concerns and urged them to do more to support these workers, including paying them their full wages.”

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It was confirmed at First Minister’s Questions at Holyrood that Scottish Enterprise is engaging with the administrator and will provide all possible assistance to help maintain jobs at the site.

Political pressure has also come from Mark Ruskell, Green MSP for Mid-Scotland and Fife, who has written to the company’s chief executive asking for reassurances about the support available to affected staff at the site and engagement with any union representatives.

Mr Ruskell said: “Yes Recycling in Fife led the way in provided a recycling service for mixed plastics, particularly hard-to-recycle food packaging. It’s exactly this kind of innovation that we need to see in the years to come to transform our relationship with waste. It’s deeply concerning to see the company’s Fife branch enter administration.”

Julie Tait, restructuring director at Grant Thornton - one of the joint administrators - said work was underway to assess the company’s financial position and try to find a buyer for the business or its assets.She added: “While the business has invested heavily in state-of-the-art recycling equipment, it had not yet been able to operate at full capacity and this has resulted in cash flow challenges in recent weeks. The company was unable to pay its debts as they fell due, resulting in our appointment as joint administrators. This is a disappointing outcome for all those associated with the company.

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A Morrisons spokesperson said it would support the administrator, adding: “In recent weeks the business has urgently sought alternative additional funding which was, very regrettably, unsuccessful. We recently learned the lending bank has placed the business into administration. We will of course, assist the administrator in any way we can in the coming weeks.”

The rest of the Yes Recycling Group, based in Buckinghamshire, is not affected.