The 22 former staff members at Harris’ biggest private employer have lodged a grievance against the company after being made redundant.
Kenny Maclean, who is the former services co-ordinator at GSH in Harris, explained the belief that a recent consulation was ‘meaningless’ and the decision to axe the Tarbert office, and with it 22 jobs, had been already taken was the driving force behind the complaint.
If the complaint is upheld the staff, which make up a massive five per cent of the entire workforce for the island of Harris, will receive a 90-day protective award.
He explained: “We are raising a grievance against the company as we feel the closure of Tarbert was inevitable and the consultation may have been meaningless. We lodged it today (Thursday, August 7th) under advice.”
He continued: “I helped start off the company with Ian Scarr-Hall in 2004 so it’s quite sad to see the company close its doors in Harris but we have to try and be proud of the 10-years its been there.
“It is difficult to see that now as people face unemployment and have to try and find new jobs.
“It is worth mentioning that Ian wouldn’t have wanted this to happen but he was powerless to intervene as there is a board of directors which make these decisions to satisfy customers. Ian was very proud of Harris and the work we did here.
“There was no question of the quality of the work here and Harris has had great messages of support from all the world.
“We have been offered retraining and support by Skills Development Scotland and they have been a big help to us alongside Job Centre Plus. Speaking to both have enabled us to focus on the future rather than mope on what has happened. HIE have also been of help to us.”
GSH is a leading national building repair and maintenance services firm and the Tarbert office helped service and maintain the facilities and energy management of more than 30,000 sites globally.
Another of the 22 to have been made redundant says the impact the closure of the office will have on Harris has not been fully appreciated.
Rachel Ball said: “It is a huge loss to Harris and is something like 4.2% of the workforce of the island which is equivalent to 200,000 people in London.
“Can you imagine if 200,000 workers lost their jobs in London in one swoop – what a huge impact that would have on economy? People think its just 20 staff but they don’t realise the impact it will have.”
Meanwhile, Western Isles MP Angus MacNeil has urged other companies to fill the void left by GSH’s withdrawal from Harris.
He said: “There is an opportunity for a company requiring skilled staff for back-office functions, an off-the-peg option and skilled team, that have formed in Harris over the last decade, working to asset management ‘Maximo’ software, a well-known standard in many industries.
“The centre in Harris has high-end skills in human resources work, planning work and compliance work for contracts. Indeed they can provide an off-the-peg option of a full back-office operation for any company looking to recruit in these areas and in a lower cost environment than usually found in large cities.
“This together with excellent broadband services in Tarbert, means that the workforce and their skills are as close as any office down the corridor.
“I hope that the skills that have been built up in Harris, will through the efforts of myself and others, find a company or group who are in need of these services and make the perfect match.”