The personnel director of textile firm Coats Viyella has called for redundancy laws to be clarified. Max Playfer wants to see an end to the conflict between a company’s obligations to the Stock Exchange and its legal duty to consult workers.
His demands come in the wake of a row with trade unions over Coats Viyella’s decision to tell the Stock Exchange of its plans to pull out of contract manufacturing and close four factories in the Midlands. Unions insist they should have been consulted first about the decision, which will see 3,000 jobs go.
But Playfer insisted the company had no choice. Under law, any employer with more than 20 staff has to inform them about possible redundancies. But Stock Exchange rules insist that market-sensitive information is announced to the markets first.
“Until the rules are clarified every company in that situation will be faced with the same dilemma,” Playfer said.
Des Farrell, clothing rep at the GMB general union, also wants to see the rules clarified – but with workers’ legal right to consultation put first. “Companies are hiding behind Stock Exchange regulations,” he said.
Playfer, whose job is likely to go, insisted that Coats Viyella was complying with its legal obligations. It announced its plans to the Stock Exchange at 7am on 6 September, told managers at 7.30 and spent the morning telling the workforce. In the afternoon it announced the factory closures.
It has also started consulting reps from the three unions involved – the GMB, knitwear union KFAT and the Transport and General Workers Union.
To make redundancies you must:
- Inform the DTI:- at least 90 days before they take effect if you employ more than 100 workers – at least 30 days if less than 100
- Consult with employees in good time – usually within 90 days of job losses taking effect
- Talks should include:- possibility of saving some jobs- criteria for deciding which jobs will go
- Failure to take these steps could result in an employment tribunal awarding 90 days’ pay to each worker affected by the redundancies
By Lucie Carrington