Axed workers tell of their anguish over collapse of troubled City Link
Around 20 staff at the doomed City Link parcel delivery firm in Belfast have spoken of their anguish after hearing that they are unlikely to have a job by New Year's Day.
Employees at the company's Northern Ireland base at Nutts Corner in Co Antrim met administrators yesterday before dawn when it was confirmed the depot is to close.
The dreaded news follows years of substantial losses by the firm, which called in administrator EY on Christmas Day.
It is understood more than 2,000 staff across the UK are now facing redundancy on New Year's Eve with final numbers being confirmed within "the coming days".
During the early morning talks, staff were told they would be paid up until December 31, the same day redundancies will be made.
Some 23 people are employed by the plant but it's been estimated that dozens more are subcontracted in other roles, including as drivers.
Subcontractors gathered at the company's headquarters in Coventry spoke angrily at their treatment, protesting that they had been told it could take a year before they find out if they will be paid what the firm owes them.
The RMT union has urged Westminster's Business Secretary Vince Cable to rescue the company.
However, Jon Moulton, founder of City Link parent company Better Capital , said the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills was aware of City Link's collapse before Christmas and did not request a meeting to help broker a rescue package.
Meanwhile, Northern Ireland customers who used the service to deliver parcels from December 24 are being told to collect them before the firm winds up.
Many employees who attended the meeting expressed anger over the way they had been informed their jobs were on the line - via media reports over the festive period.
Steven Parks, a warehouse operative with the firm in Nutts Corner, reported a "sombre" mood among his co-workers.
He said: "It's very disappointing. There are people here with families and everyone has bills to pay and there'll be no more money coming in now so what can you do?"
A statement from the administrator confirmed they had begun directly informing the company employees on "the potential for significant redundancies".
They added some staff will be retained in the short-term to return parcels and help with winding down the company.
Yesterday's statement confirmed: "While no redundancies have been made today, the joint administrators believe that the company will unfortunately have to make substantial redundancies, which will take effect on December 31, 2014, as a result of the company being unable to continue trading and accept further parcels."
Hunter Kelly, joint administrator, said the firm had incurred substantial losses over several years reflecting "a combination of intense competition in the sector, changing customer and parcel recipient preferences".
City Link declined to make any further statements on the future of the workforce at the Northern Ireland base.
Jon Moulton rejected claims the firm's collapse was mishandled but apologised for the timing of the news.
He said the company's directors would have been guilty of a criminal offence had they not filed for insolvency when it became clear "a couple of days before Christmas" that the firm would collapse.
He said he had lost "a couple of million pounds" on City Link and warned it would take around £100m to save the company.
He said the Government's Department for Business, Innovation and Skills was advised of City Link's collapse but did not request a meeting.
Better Capital bought City Link from Rentokil for £1 early last year.