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Last Updated: Thursday, 18 November, 2004, 16:21 GMT
Jobs go at Aberdeen textile firm
Richards workers
Workers gather to hear the grim news about their jobs
Nearly 200 jobs are expected to go at Aberdeen's last remaining textile mill after liquidators were called in.

Workers at Richards of Aberdeen only learned they had been laid off when they realised their wages had not been paid into their bank accounts.

The struggling company was saved from receivership after local businessman Ian Suttie led a buyout in 2002.

Union officials hit out at Mr Suttie's "mismanagement" of the company and described his behaviour as "barbaric".

Richards, once one of Aberdeen's main employers, has been hit by a series of crises in recent years, including a shortfall in the company's pension fund.

Aberdeen City Council has pledged to do all it can to help find new jobs for those affected by the news.

Legal application

Last year Richards moved from its city centre headquarters to new premises on the outskirts of town with assistance from the city council.

The 200-year-old firm, which announced 52 job losses last week, has made a legal application to start liquidation proceedings.

This will result in the 196-strong workforce losing their jobs too. Many have been with the company for their entire working lives.

Mill worker
The mill has struggled to survive for some time
Some said they became concerned on Thursday morning when supplies stopped going into the mill.

One worker told BBC Scotland: "We first knew there was something wrong when I didn't get my pay this morning. I went to the bank and it wasn't in."

Amicus trade union official Graham Tran demanded answers from Mr Suttie - who declined requests for an interview.

He said the union was notified on Thursday morning that Mr Suttie had "pulled the plug" and workers' wages had not been paid.

Mr Tran blamed "over-ambitious" output targets for the company's failure to meet orders and called on the city's business community to "start afresh" with the staff.

"For a multi-millionaire to treat people on the minimum wage like this is just absolutely disgraceful," he said.

"We understand the company was in difficulty, but this behaviour can only be described as barbaric."

"Disappointing" demise

A consortium led by Mr Suttie, chief executive of First Oil, rescued Richards from receivership after it went under in January 2002 with debts of about 10m.

Despite increasing its workforce by 80 in May this year, it eventually succumbed after racking up a 5m shortfall in its company pension scheme and suffering a downturn in the wake of the 11 September attacks.

Rita Stephen, head of economic development at Aberdeen City Council, described the mill's demise as "disappointing".

"In a city with 1.8% unemployment, there are a number of companies having difficulty recruiting staff and we would like to think that a lot of people will be able to find alternative employment as quickly as possible."

Brian Adam, the Scottish National Party MSP for Aberdeen North, also expressed disappointment at the closure of the mill after nearly 200 years of manufacturing.

Mr Adam said: "I realise that the council has done all that it could possibly do to save Richards and I hope the council and other agencies will now step in to help give the staff all the support, training and advice that they can to help them find new jobs."


SEE ALSO:
Fife textile workers face pay-off
01 Apr 04 |  Scotland
Ayrshire reels from jobs blow
03 May 02 |  Scotland
Firms told to 'go upmarket'
24 Feb 02 |  Scotland


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