Former Dundee employees of a collapsed clinical waste firm say they are “more convinced than ever” that an estimated £300,000 in unpaid wages will not be honoured after meeting Business Minister Jamie Hepburn.
Help Us Healthcare, a group of workers from Healthcare Environmental Services (HES) who were made redundant after the firm ceased trading, went to Holyrood on Wednesday amid calls for workers to be paid what they are due.
Time sheets confirm staff were frequently working more than 60-hour weeks prior to the firm’s collapse last month but some have had to rely on foodbanks after December wages were withheld.
Dundee team leader Billy Robertson was joined at parliament by former employees Stuart McSorley and Mike Dowling, along with representatives from the firm’s North Lanarkshire site.
Some staff said they remain unconvinced following the meeting, and fear they will be left short-changed, as removing the large backlog of waste takes priority.
Mr McSorley, who worked for HES for about 18 months, said: “It was nice words but pretty much the same as we’ve had before.
“I’m more convinced than ever we won’t get what we are due.”
HES was previously responsible for disposing of materials from every medical facility in Scotland but became embroiled in a stockpiling scandal after it emerged hundreds of tonnes of waste had built up at a number of its sites.
A total of 17 contracts with NHS England were torn up and NHS Scotland confirmed it would not renew its agreement with the business beyond April, which HES claims led to HSBC freezing its accounts.
Environment Secretary Roseanna Cunningham told Holyrood on Wednesday that evidence suggests there is a backlog of 250-300 tonnes of clinical waste and 10 tonnes of anatomical waste at Scottish HES sites in Dundee and Shotts.
She confirmed the Scottish Environment Protection Agency has commenced an investigation to establish whether any criminal offences have been committed.
Mr Hepburn said: “We will continue to provide as much support as possible to the former employees of HES. This includes pursuing issues with the bank and supporting employees claiming redundancy pay through the Redundancy Payment Service.”