Havelock ‘recklessly gambled’ staff wages, says MP, as more details of collapse emerge

Lesley Laird MP has praised the Kirkcaldy community for rallying around Havelock’s workers at a support employment event on Monday.
Described as “potentially the biggest PACE event ever hosted”, the event saw 56 exhibitors at Dean Park Hotel, including employers, recruitment agencies and support agencies.
Lesley said: “The main focus for everyone right now is to ensure Havelock’s 247-strong workforce is given all help possible to secure alternative employment.
“Today proved to me that Kirkcaldy rallies at times of need and shows just how highly Havelock’s loyal and highly-skilled staff are thought of.
“I’d like to extend thanks to PACE and Skills Development Scotland for managing to organise this event at such short notice.”
The MP has been in contact with Scottish Enterprise and Havelock’s owners Rcapital and more is emerging about the timeline of events which culminated in Havelock entering into administration last week.
Ms Laird learned that Rcapital – who bought Havelock Europa in a £2.5m pre-pack deal in July 2018, with hours to spare before closure  –  was forced to sink a further £3.2 million into the business over the past year.
“They had approached Scottish Enterprise to request funding in April but according to Rcapital, were knocked back for reasons which I’ll be investigating” said Lesley.
“Last month it became apparent the business needed at least another £1.5m to stay afloat but Rcapital made the decision not to invest on July 28, stating the business was not viable.
“Meanwhile, earlier that month they had engaged PwC to investigate an accelerated sale of the business and on July 24 had unsuccessfully requested bridge funding from Scottish Enterprise to facilitate that sale.
“It also emerged that, to cover July 500k wages bill, the situation hinged completely on a customer paying up before July 31 but, fearing the customer would delay payment if it knew of Havelock’s difficulties, Rcapital stayed schtum until, with just 48 hours to spare, they sought help from third parties.
“That, in my view, was a reckless gamble and Havelock’s staff were left to suffer the consequences.”
Unite is offering former Havelock workers – even non-members – an opportunity to apply for a protective award which could offer minimum 8 weeks’ pay.
For more information contact Paul Kiseen at Thompsons for free advice on 0141 566 6856 or email paul.kissen@thompsons-scotland.co.uk
George Ramsay Regional Officer for Unite said: “There are not many other companies in Fife who offer manufacturing joinery jobs and many of the workers know they’ll have to travel further afield for those types of jobs.
“Some of them have worked at Havelock for 20-30 years and they know they’ll have to change what they do for a living.”
In reaction to today’s event, Organiser Julie Kennedy, PACE regional chair said: “I really couldn’t ask for a better turnout. We had people queuing up from 9.45am eager to get in.
“There are some people that are still quite angry, which is understandable, but equally there are other people who are saying they have interviews lined up.”
Skills Development Scotland ran workshops last week where Havelock staff were able to get one-to-one advice and more workshops are planned for next week.
“It is understood that around a third of the 247 who lost their jobs are now claiming benefit however it is still unclear how many are still in the process to claim.