Crisis meeting for Livingston computer factory workers

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Kaiam Corporation office in Livingston.
Kaiam

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Kaiam employees about 300 people in Livingston

Workers at a computer factory in West Lothian are to attend a meeting over their future.

The 300-strong Kaiam workforce at Livingston learned last week that they would not be paid wages expected before Christmas.

Over the weekend it was confirmed that administrators had been appointed.

The joint administrators, from KPMG, said their first priority was to explain the situation to the factory’s employees.

Meanwhile local people and businesses have made thousands of pounds worth of donations to help employees who have missed out on their Christmas pay.

Livingston MP Hannah Bardell pledged to “strain every sinew” to look for opportunities for Kaiam and their workers.

  • Administrators appointed at computer firm
  • Uncertain future as workers’ wages go unpaid

The SNP MP told BBC Radio Scotland’s Good Morning Scotland programme that it was a “terrible shame” that the firm did not ask for help at an earlier stage.

Kaiam was given a £850,000 Scottish Enterprise grant in 2014 to relocate some of its production from a site in China to Livingston.

“They have £4m on their order book so there’s work there to be done but at the moment they can’t pay their bills,” Ms Bardell added.

“We have to do everything we can to help but we need the executive team and the chief executive in particular to engage with us positively so we can do all we can to help.”

‘Unbelievably grateful’

The community response was led by Emma Black, whose step-father is employed by Kaiam.

She set up a Facebook group appealing for help for those affected, and over the weekend thousands of donations were left a community centre in Livingston.

Ms Black told BBC Scotland that her step-father received a phone call last week telling him that he would not receive his December wages.

She said: “Nobody expects anything like this to happen at any time of the year but definitely not the day you get your Christmas wage which is paying for your kids’ presents, your Christmas dinner. It’s just been absolute shock to everybody.”

But she said the volume of donations received from local people had been “overwhelming”.

“It’s been such an emotional weekend,” she said. “People are so, so grateful. The amount of people who have come over and given me a wee cuddle and we’ve both had a wee cry because it’s just so emotional. They’re so, so unbelievably grateful.”

The businesses affected by the administration are Kaiam Europe Limited (KEL) and Kaiam UK Limited.

Unpaid wages

They are owned by Kaiam Corporation, a US-based organisation which manufactures parts used for high-speed data transfer between multiple servers at data centres.

The parent company is not affected by the appointment of administrators at its European operation.

The Livingston workers were told last week that wages, due on Friday, would not be paid.

They were also asked to stay away from work until 3 January.

Joint administrator Blair Nimmo said: “This is clearly very upsetting news for all of the staff at KEL, particularly at this time of year.

“Our first priority is to meet with the company’s employees and communicate what these administration appointments mean for them, which we are aiming to do on Monday afternoon.”

He added: “We are exploring a sale of the business and are working with Scottish Enterprise, Skills Development Scotland and West Lothian Council to provide a full range of support to the company’s employees as this process takes place. We would encourage any interested parties to contact us as soon as possible.”

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