Workers at one of the West Midlands’ biggest security operations have been laid off without pay as cash-strapped companies pull out of contracts.
And under the terms of their contracts of employment, employees affected have to wait at least four weeks before they can leave and claim statutory redundancy pay.
The effects of the recession on the region’s security industry were revealed today as UK chain Reliance Security Group confirmed the loss of “a number of large contracts” and “reduction in hours on many sites.”
About 54 workers based all over the region have had their hours slashed as a result – and some staff with Reliance claim they have been left virtually penniless.
The firm, whose regional base is at Oldbury, said it was working hard to avoid redundancies among its site support staff, who provide short-term cover for a wide range of clients.
But one worker, who asked not to be named, said: “Dozens of us have been laid off for weeks now. They have not paid us anything to lay us off and we are not entitled to any redundancy, holiday or sick pay.
“They seem to have chosen people randomly. Some of us are in dire straits financially.”
A letter to staff from management representative Tony Pitcher said: “In line with your contract of employment and via this letter providing 24 hours’ notice, you will be officially laid off from work until further notice.
“During this period of being laid off, you will still accrue holiday but holiday cannot be taken.
“No periods of sickness will be paid for by the company in this period of being laid off and when shifts become available, you will be contacted by our operations support team or your contract manager.
“I would like to emphasise you remain an employee of Reliance Security, and must continue to adhere to all your terms and conditions of employment.
“Only when the lay-off constitutes a certain period of time can you request in writing for your contract to be terminated via redundancy.”
A statement from Middlesex-based Reliance Security said: “Reliance has changed the working arrangements for approximately 50 of its 700 staff in the West Midlands.
“These individuals are contracted to provide last minute, short-term cover for requests such as sickness, holiday and general emergency security, and the change relates to a drop in the demand for this type of security requirements from customers.
“Reliance is trying hard to protect the employment of these individuals and for those affected has, in line with the terms of their contracts, put in place a more flexible working arrangement which no longer guarantees a set number of contracted hours per week and minimises the risk of redundancy.
“Whilst Reliance regrets the need for this step, the company is working very hard to avoid redundancies and to ensure that these staff see only a reduction in their hours, rather than no work at all.”