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OUT OF CASH; Worker in protest over wages.

Byline: KRYSTA EAVES

TWO angry workers staged a blockade at a factory over claims they had not been paid for two months.

The packing operatives at the Baked Snacks Company in South Bank, formerly the Britannia Biscuits Co, claim they have not been paid properly since January.

And after the company, which employs 90 people, allegedly ignored phone calls and even a letter from MP Vera Baird, workers decided to take matters into their own hand.

Disgruntled worker David Taylor, took part in the protest, which saw him and another worker -who does not want to be named - park a car across the factory's main entrance.

Problems began in February when David claims he received only pounds 300 of the pounds 1,209 he was supposed to be paid.

Currently David, who went on compassionate leave four weeks ago after the death of his mother Beryl, says the company owes him pounds 1,170.

David said: "I'm just so angry. At the end of the day I've just lost my mum I don't need this. My dad is helping me out with his old age pension, but why should I have to rely on him? After blocking the entrance for 10 minutes David and his fellow protester were invited in to speak with company director Mobeen Mehdi.

David, who lives in Warwick Street, said: "He paid us pounds 140. We asked when are we going to get the rest but he wouldn't say.

" When we go and ask him for money he doesn't see that people have families and bills."

Currently David is filling out forms to apply for an employment tribunal.

Because the company has not issued him a redundancy letter, David says he can't claim Job Seekers' Allowance.

David's dad Donald, a 74-year-old retired postal supervisor, said: "Luckily I am able to help David. But there are a lot of his friends who are threatened with eviction and can't pay their bills."

Mr Mehdi blamed the banking crisis and a loss in production after the plant was out of action for 10 days when it broke down last week, for not being able to pay wages.

He said: "I bought the business last year in May when the banks were very negative. I have zero overdraft and no bank loan. I'm trying to revive this business. I don't want to see anyone starve.

"While there was no production there was no cash which meant things are worse than before. Cash is king; it's only generated through production."

But Mr Mehdi says he is confident that the company will soon be back on track.

This is not the first time that workers have taken action against the company after it failed to pay them.

Last October, two workers staged a similar protest after they were not paid for six weeks.

CAPTION(S):

PAY PROTEST: David Taylor, right, who says he has not been paid properly for months, and how we told of a similar protest last year
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Publication:Evening Gazette (Middlesbrough, England)
Date:Apr 16, 2010
Words:498
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