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PAY US NOW; Axed Simclar workers in factory protest demand redundancy.

Byline: By THOMAS SMITH

AXED Scots workers called off their factory sit-in yesterday - but vowed to carry their fight for redundancy cash.

Around 20 protesters stormed the Simclar factory in Ayrshire on Friday to demonstrate against the company's decision to axe 420 jobs.

Yesterday morning the members of the trade union Community abandoned their protest at the Kilwinning site. They then joined colleagues at the gates of the company's nearby Irvine plant.

The workers claim they are being given the minimum pay-off after Simclar announced on Monday that it was to close both plants with 420 job losses Willie Paterson, Scottish regional secretary of Community, said: "Simclar Ayrshire made millions of pounds over the last two years and we don't think it's acceptable to offer minimum state redundancy to loyal staff, not to mention sack them without any notice or consultation."

Simclar Group chairman Sam Russell blamed a fall in orders and cheap competition from abroad for the closure.

The company is entirely owned by millionaire Mr Russell and his wife, Christina, and was named after their children, Simon and Clara, when it was founded in 1976.

Ten years after founding the firm, which made computer components for firms like IBM, Motorola and Eriksson, Russell received an MBE for his services to industry. The protesters have labelled Russell - Scotland's eighth richest man with an estimated pounds 20 million fortune - an "industrial vampire", and yesterday called on him to pay the cash they say they're owed. Johnan Watson, 54, from Irvine, has worked for Simclar for 15 years. She said: "If I don't pay my bills I could end up on the street - but it looks as if the management at Simclar will got off Scot free after refusing to give us the redundancy cash we are owed.""

Katy Clark, Labour MP for North Ayrshire and Arran, said: "If the law allows companies to treat workers this way it's time that law was changed.

"Unemployment is high in Ayrshire. This is the last thing the community needed."

Central Ayrshire Labour MP Brian Donohoe accused Simclar of stripping assets from its Ayrshire sites and transferring them to the parent company, Simclar Group Ltd.

He said: "I demand that Sam Russell dip into his loose change and pay workers the money they are owed."

Yesterday police were called to the Irvine site following claims the demonstrators had blocked a lorry leaving. But John Steele, senior organiser with the union Community, defended his members and insisted they were taking part in a "peaceful protest".

Simclar was paid pounds 1.5million of taxpayers' cash - from Scottish Enterprise - in 2003 to help secure the Ayrshire plant's future.

The agency is under pressure to get it back.

news@sundaymirror.co.uk
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Title Annotation:Features
Publication:Sunday Mirror (London, England)
Date:Feb 4, 2007
Words:454
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