Dec 19 2012 by Michael Pringle, Airdrie & Coatbridge Advertiser
The families of employees at an Airdrie manufacturing company are facing a bleak Christmas after liquidators moved in and suddenly closed it down.
Workers at Caldervale Forge on Dunrobin Road were left stunned after the company, established more than a century ago, was wound up last Friday.
The closure has effectively thrown the company’s 24 employees on to the dole just 10 days before Christmas.
Office manager Donna McMillan (33), from Plains, had worked at the Forge for 17 years. She was shocked by the news, telling the Advertiser: “Christmas has been cancelled for us, along with direct debits as we try to get by.
“We are owed wages and holiday pay but we’ve been told we won’t be getting any sort of redundancy pay until February or March. We knew the company wasn’t doing too well but we didn’t think it was going to blow up overnight. The managers had people in doing overtime and must have known that they weren’t going to get paid.”
The company initially made shovels for the mining and railway industries and drilling equipment, diversifying in the late 1960s to become a specialist manufacturer of heavy hydraulic steel breakers, used in demolition, road repairs and quarry work.
Its owner, Neil Bairdwatson, died in 2006 and the company was then placed in the hands of the Bairdwatson Charitable Trust.
Donna added: “The Trust was supposedly set up to help benefit the company and people in the local community. From what I understand, our managing director is also on the board of trustees but we have never seen a penny from the trust.”
Clarkston man Alan Cunningham (55) has also been left facing a grim Christmas on the dole after 22 years at Caldervale Forge.
He said: “It came as a complete shock to me – they always say there’s no good time to lose your job, but the timing of this couldn’t be worse.
“There were people within the company who knew but they didn’t tell us, they pretended they didn’t know what was happening.
“I have a 15-year-old daughter but fortunately we already had her Christmas sorted out before this.”
Sales representative Alex Summers (63), who had also worked for the company for 22 years, said: “I’m fortunate as I was due to retire in a year, but it’s the younger ones I feel sorry for — the ones that have kids and mortgages.
“I could see it going downhill and there wasn’t a good atmosphere in the place.”
Tony Hay (66) was works manager and then moved to the position of quality control manager three years ago.
He said: “I knew the company wasn’t doing very well and a year ago I volunteered for redundancy. I expected redundancies as there has been a drop in exports to places like Spain and Italy with the European recession, but I never expected it to be liquidated.”
Both of Airdrie & Shotts’ parliamentarians called the closure news “devastating”, with MP Pamela Nash saying: “The workers are facing a very bleak Christmas, and this seems to have come out of the blue.
“I have been in touch with North Lanarkshire Council, who tell me that they had not been made aware that the company was in difficulties and that so many people were about to lose their jobs.”
Alex Neil MSP said: “I am saddened by the news of Caldervale Forge closing its doors with a loss of 25 jobs which is devastating to the families involved, especially at this time of year.
“Caldervale Forge was an important local employer, so this closure will have an obvious impact on the local economy.”
A spokesman for the liquidators, Zolfo Cooper, said: “Elizabeth Mackay, Partner at Zolfo Cooper was appointed provisional liquidator on December 6 and the company is set to enter formal liquidation early next year.
“Due to a lack of funding the director made the voluntary decision to liquidate the company which has now ceased trading and 24 people, including the director, were made redundant.”