Belfast Telegraph

Acuman employees told to seek wages from Irish state

By Jamie Stinson

Some workers who lost their jobs from a Dublin subsidiary of Belfast building firm H&J Martin have been told they will need to claim their unpaid salary from the Irish state.

Acuman Facilities Management in Swords, Co Dublin, which went into liquidation on October 24, was established in 1997 before being acquired in 2009 by the H&J Martin Group, which is headquartered on the Ormeau Road and employs almost 400 people.

Almost 90 people lost their jobs, although a number of these are thought to have been re-employed in another company also owned by the H&J Martin group in Dublin.

Former Acuman commercial manager Maria Clarke said she was informed last Friday by liquidators Deloitte that staff will need to get their unpaid salary from the State Solvency Fund in the Republic.

Ms Clarke said with the limit under the State Solvency Fund, she will not be able to regain her total unpaid wages for work carried out before the firm closed.

"They say it'll be six to nine months to get the money," she said. "The State Solvency Fund is capped at €600 (£477) a week, so we're not getting all our money. I'm losing out as my salary was higher.

"H&J Martin have washed their hands of it. I haven't had any contact from them, and I'm told other people haven't had any contact."

TD for the area and the Republic's Minister for Children, James Reilly, has supported Maria and her co-workers in their fight to get paid the wages owed.

He said he was "concerned" for the workers and their families and said he has contacted his government colleague Richard Bruton's Department of Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation over the situation.

Mr Reilly said that the National Employment Rights Authority has been asked to contact the workers to make sure they have access to any employment rights information that they may need.

When contacted for comment, a spokesman for the H&J Martin Group referred the Business Telegraph to the liquidator Tom Kavanagh of Deloitte in Dublin, who has so far not responded to requests for comment.

Belfast Telegraph economist John Simpson said that H&J Martin Holdings Limited went from an operating profit of £325,000 in 2011 to an operating loss of £1.4m in 2012.

The company's last set of annual results was due to be filed in September 2014 and are expected to be filed imminently.

At the time of the liquidation, Derek Martin, joint managing director, said that Acuman was "unsustainable and unable to continue trading".

"The appointment of a liquidator to Acuman Facilities Management is regrettably unavoidable given the collapse of the businesses' finances in recent years," said Mr Martin.

"Despite significant investment of over €2m in the business by its parent company and a recent restructuring of its senior management, the business is simply not economically viable."

£1.4m

Operating loss of H&J Martin Holdings Limited in 2012

Belfast Telegraph

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