A company built on the back of council contracts should be blacklisted by Scotland’s 32 local authorities until it pays £125,000 owed to workers, according to a leading trade union.
McTear Contracts, who work with local government and housing associations across the country, have still not paid money owed to nine kitchen fitters despite agreeing to settle a six-year legal battle in May.
The workers are owed the money under TUPE legislation guaranteeing the same terms and conditions if jobs are transferred to a new business.
Why are workers owed money?
They had been employed by Amey to fit kitchens in social housing in North Lanarkshire before the contract was divided between two new firms, including McTear, in 2017.
Neither company agreed to take the workers on but after a long-running and landmark legal action, an employment tribunal ruled the workers should have been transferred automatically under the same terms.
McTear finally agreed in May to settle the dispute and pay £125,000 compensation after talks at Acas, the arbitration service.
However, months later, the company has so far refused to make the payments.
Union leaders raise concerns
After being contacted by The Sunday Post to explain why they had not been made, McTear said the money will now be transferred by the end of the month.
But union leaders say the firm should not be considered as an appropriate contractor until the cash reaches the workers.
Louise Gilmour, GMB Scotland secretary, said: “This firm’s refusal to pay substantial sums owed to former workers should be a serious concern for its public sector clients.
“McTear boasts about winning lucrative contracts with 10 local authorities but its refusal to do the right thing and meet its legally-binding commitments should be an issue of concern before it gets another.
“These former workers have been forced to spend many years fighting for money owed to them and we would urge this company to pay them immediately.
“If it does not, we will be asking local authorities and housing associations to review their existing and future contracts and think carefully about whether McTear has met the legal and ethical standards expected of suppliers being paid by taxpayers.”
They shouldn’t be allowed to treat people this way.
Former McTear kitchen fitter
One kitchen fitter, who asked not to be named, spoke about his frustration over waiting to receive the thousands of pounds he is owed by McTear.
He said: “The judges told them to pay the money so just pay it. Do they think they’re above the law?
“Their work is mostly council work so I don’t understand why they wouldn’t just get this settled and get it out of the road. This shouldn’t be happening with council contractors.
“The guys have been sitting in limbo and, for some of them, that money would make a real difference. I think they just don’t want to pay it but they shouldn’t be allowed to treat people this way.”
What does McTear say?
Accounts published in 2022 revealed the company, which has worked for almost a third of Scottish local authorities, including North Ayrshire, Aberdeen, and Fife, had a turnover of £9.9 million and profits before tax of £1.1 million.
The company has a history of disputes with workers and was ordered to pay more than £24,000 to a plumber in 2018 after he was sacked shortly after raising concerns about being underpaid for his work.
Keiron McTear, director of the firm, said personal issues had delayed the money being paid out to the kitchen fitters in North Lanarkshire.
He said: “I have spoken with my accountant to make arrangements to pay the sums by no later than October 31.”
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