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Focus Head Office staff furious at way they were dismissed

ANGRY workers axed from Focus’s Crewe headquarters are considering legal action, saying more than 100 staff were unfairly dismissed.

Focus insiders say 109 staff were given less than an hour to clear their desks after being told they had lost their jobs. Administrators Ernst & Young say the figure is 100.
But one woman, who has worked at the Westmere Drive HQ for six years, said: “You accept these things happen and administrators have a job to do but there’s a right and a wrong way to approach it.

“They still haven’t told us what the selection criteria for getting rid of people was.”

The woman added workers could apply for statutory redundancy but “we didn’t get paid for our final week and no-one got the expenses they were owed.”

Some of those axed with less than an hour’s notice had been employed by Focus DIY for more than 30 years, the woman said.
She added: “We’re considering lodging an employment tribunal claim for a protective award and for unfair dismissal – the protective award because they failed to consult and unfair dismissal because it wasn’t a fair selection.

“Many people who worked there don’t know how they’re going to pay their mortgage,” said the woman, who didn’t want to be named.

Another Focus office worker, employed at the company for nearly 19 years, said: "We were told on Wednesday we might be going into administration.

"On the Thursday morning we got an email saying ‘Please be at your workstations at 11.15’. Then at 11.30 we were rounded up in the staff canteen and told we were redundant with immediate effect. They said to pack your bags and at 12.20 we were all gone."

She too declined to be named for fear of it affecting any payouts she may be entitled to.

A spokeswoman for Ernst & Young said 100 staff had gone from Focus DIY’s HQ in Crewe.

"They will be entitled to statutory redundancy entitlements," she said, adding: "When a company goes into administration decisions like that have to be made. It’s not always possible to give a consultation period."

At present 185 staff are still employed at the HQ.
Focus had 178 stores – 31 have been sold to Kingfisher Plc and on Monday another 13 stores were sold to Wickes Building Supplies Limited, a subsidiary of Travis Perkins Plc.

The administrators, who have not yet confirmed whether the Nantwich store is among those to have been sold, say they have had a strong level of interest from potential buyers for the rest of the store empire and the business is continuing to trade strongly.

Source : Belinda Ryan - Crewe Chronicle

18 May 2011
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