Friday 17 January 2020

190 jobs lost at construction firm Patton

David Young

A total of 190 workers have lost their jobs at one of Northern Ireland's longest-established construction firms, administrators have confirmed.

Family-run business Patton, which is based in Ballymena, was placed into administration earlier this week.

It was consumed by financial problems in what should have been a year of celebration as it marked its centenary.

Until today the company had employed around 320 people.

Administrators from Keenan CF outlined the redundancies to staff during a series of meetings today.

It is understood employees met them in groups of 25.

The redundancies take effect immediately with the laid off workers to receive a statutory payout in the coming weeks.

The struggling firm is continuing to trade while in administration.

The company has a turnover of around £140m but posted a £7m loss last year.

A spokesman for Keenan CF confirmed that 190 redundancies had been made.

"Following an urgent initial review of the company's trading operations in conjunction with the directors, unfortunately it has been necessary to make a number of staff redundant as of Friday November 9," he said.

"Following the company's recent trading difficulties, a number of the company's contracts were terminated by customers and the reduced level of activity in the business has directly impacted the level of staff required.

"The administrator will continue to review employment in the context of workload and the financial position of the company and will keep employees informed."

A number of the workers are members of the Union of Construction, Allied Trades and Technicians (UCATT)

Union representative Gerry McKenna said it was a "sad day for Ballymena".

"These people have mortgages, car payments, credits cards - everything that you take for granted as part of your monthly outgoings," he said.

"They are worried for their future and wonder what they are going to do now.

"This had been a reliable company, some of our members had worked there for 30 years. And there's not much employment out there in the construction sector at the moment. It's a very sad day."

Workers in Patton are not the only ones set to suffer, with numerous sub-contractors also preparing to lose out in terms of both unpaid invoices and future work opportunities.

Niall Kerr, who co-owns K A Electrical Ltd in Ballymena, said he is owed £9,000 by Patton.

"If I don't get the money, next month I am not going to have enough to pay my wholesalers and I don't know what I am going to do," he said.

"Hundreds if not thousands of people are going to be affected by this. Sub contractors are forgotten about in all this and there's nothing any of us can do.

"We are expected to take it as a slap in the face and just move on."

Stormont's Employment and Learning Minister Stephen Farry expressed concern at the redundancies.

"Job losses such as those announced today by Pattons are extremely regrettable, not only for those who have been told their jobs are to go, but also for families, communities and the economy as a whole," he said.

"I would like to assure those affected by today's announcement that my department will be making every effort, along with the Department for Enterprise, Trade and Investment, and the Social Security Agency (SSA) to assist those affected.

"Through our redundancy advice service we work in partnership with the SSA, further education colleges, HMRC and other agencies to provide advice on alternative job opportunities and access to training courses and a range of other issues such as benefits and taxation."

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