Workers who lost their jobs at a scandal-hit clinical waste plant have landed a six-figure compensation payout.
Former staff at Healthcare Environmental Services (HES) – whose headquarters were near Shotts in Lanarkshire –launched legal action after the firm failed to consult them before making them redundant.
Thompsons Solicitors said it has now secured £400,000 for 220 former workers at the bust clinical waste firm, run by businessman Garry Pettigrew.
HES staff arrived at work days before Christmas in 2018 to be to told they no longer had a job.
The firm had lost lucrative NHS clinical waste contracts after it allowed body parts to stockpile at the sites it ran.
The payout – called a Protective Award – has been funded by the taxpayer via the Insolvency Service.
Lorry driver Jim Sharp, 57, who was given £1600 last week, said: “This has come as a nice bonus but it doesn’t make up for what happened.
“Ultimately, it is the taxpayer who will foot this bill and not Mr Pettigrew.
“He refused to tell us how bad things were.
“He simply folded the company, moved on with his life and left others to pick up the tab.
“The devastation he caused in the weeks leading up to Christmas in 2018 will never been forgiven or forgotten.
“Like a lot of people I had to borrow money to keep things going.”
Grandad-of-three Jim, from Shotts, said he had since found work driving bin lorries for Glasgow City Council.
He added: “I am back on my feet now but others have not been as lucky.”
HES went into liquidation in April 2019 after all its staff were made redundant.
The firm, which also had bases in Dundee and England, had managed all of Scotland’s clinical waste and had contracts with the NHS in England.
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But the firm was stripped of the contracts in October 2018 after it was reported it allowed 350 tons of hospital waste to pile up at its facilities, including body parts.
Gruesome images emerged showing piles of waste, including a discarded pig’s head.
Pettigrew, who lives on a farm near the Shotts site, branded staff thick for reacting angrily to the news he had set up new firms while HES was folding.Central Scotland Labour MSP Monica Lennon said: “This is a great result for the former workers at HES.
“I heard first-hand stories from the workforce after they lost their jobs and it was heartbreaking.
“There were guys in tears worrying about how they were going to feed their families.
“This is a victory for HES’s former workers but it is concerning it will be left up to the taxpayer to pick up the tab.”
Paul Kissen of Thompsons Solicitors said: “We have been able to secure a Protective Award after raising an action in an Employment Tribunal.
“This has been a long process, compounded by delays caused by Covid, but has ultimately been successful.
“He badly let down his staff and failed his legal duty to them.”
Mr Pettigrew could not be reached for comment.