Tagged: Christmas Day

City Link collapse: ‘I found out I’d lost my job while watching the news on Christmas Day’

A delivery driver who discovered he had lost his job watching the news on Christmas Day says his employers have left him “high and dry”.

News of the collapse of parcel delivery firm City Link was announced on Christmas Eve and will see 2,000 staff made redundant nationally.

Thornaby driver Chris Trattles, who worked at the firm’s Leeming Bar depot, only heard of the closure when a friend told him to switch on the television news on Christmas Day.

He was told not to go into work on Saturday – before a meeting at 7.30am this morning officially announced that he and his colleagues had been made redundant.

The 37-year-old, who worked for the company in two spells, said:

“They have left me and everyone else high and dry.

“We knew what was coming by the time we got to the meeting, but to lose your job this way – and especially finding out on Christmas Day.

“It has spoiled the entire festive period for me.”

Chris said that he will have to apply to the government for statutory redundancy pay, and chase for payment of overtime and unpaid holidays.

“I will have to go and sign on now,” he continued.

Before Christmas is a busy time, but now that is out of the way January is always a quiet time in the industry so I can’t see where my next job is coming from.

“I have a seven-year-old daughter so there are bills from Christmas, I still have my lodge to pay and I run a car, but there is no more money coming in.

“I don’t know how long a claim for statutory redundancy will take – and I don’t know how I’m going to get my overtime or holiday pay.”

A statement from the company which owned City Link, Better Capital, read:

“Unfortunately the appointment of an administrator was leaked to the media ahead of the intended announcement.

“The directors very much regret the impact on the employees of City Link receiving such bad news on Christmas Day.”

Speaking on BBC Radio 4, Better Capital boss John Moulton said the firm’s administration could not have been handled any better and said: “We chased every possible way to save this company.”

But Chris said staff should have been told earlier:

“I cannot fault the manager at my depot, who has been brilliant, but the top brass knew things were going wrong and should have communicated with staff.”

Chris worked at City Link’s old Thornaby branch for around four years before accepting administration when the depot was closed and operations moved to Durham.

He rejoined the company working from Leeming Bar around four years ago, delivering parcels across Yorkshire.

Source –  Middlesbrough Evening Gazette, 29 Dec 2014

Crunch talks over North East jobs at City Link parcel company

Crunch talks are taking place today in a bid to save hundreds of North jobs following the collapse of parcel delivery firm City Link.

Union officials from the RMT are meeting the company’s administrators Ernst and Young (EY) in the hope they can hammer out a deal to prevent nearly 3,000 job losses, including those at its branches at Belmont in County Durham, Wardley in Gateshead and Carlisle in Cumbria.

The move comes after City Link announced –  on Christmas Day – that it is going into administration after years of “substantial losses.”

The union claims the company employes hundreds of people in the North East, although exactly how many is not yet known.

It has branded the move “truly devastating” for the region’s economy.

Officials are to meet in Leeds this afternoon to discuss the fate of the firm’s 2,727 staff, and union bosses have vowed to stay in talks for as long as it takes to salvage jobs.

RMT general secretary Mick Cash said:

“RMT’s objective now is to do everything we can to rescue jobs in the wake of the shock collapse into administration of City Link on Christmas Day.

“Despite the festive season there can be no delays in getting on with the rescue programme and we expect the government through Vince Cable to take an active role right now.

“The thousands of workers caught in the middle of this crisis deserve full support from every quarter.”

The union has demanded “urgent talks” with business secretary Mr Cable and said it is disappointed the minister has only pledged to meet them in the new year.

Coventry-based City Link, which is understood to have counted John Lewis among its largest clients, expects numerous redundancies after no buyer could be found to bail it out.

The RMT said it believed there may have been “more cynical motives” behind the decision to “delay” the announcement until Christmas Day and demanded an investigation.

A spokesman for the union in the North said:

“Hundreds of jobs will be placed at risk in the North East and this will be truly devastating for the economy.”

City Link operations have been suspended at all its depots until Monday, when customers and those expecting deliveries will be able to collect their parcels.

Investment firm Better Capital, led by veteran venture capitalist Jon Moulton, bought the courier group for just £1 in April last year from the previous owner, pest control firm Rentokil.

A number of staff will be retained to help return parcels to customers and help with winding down the company, EY said.

Source –  Newcastle Evening Chronicle, 27 Dec 2014

Hundreds of items of winter clothing are set to be distributed to Newcastle’s homeless

Kind-hearted Co-op staff have donated hundreds of items of clothing to help the homeless this winter.

A total of 300 bags of clothing are set to help 400 homeless people across the North East.

Customers and Co-op staff have collected a lorry full of toiletries and winter woollies, which included 343 pairs of trousers, 246 jumpers, 194 fleeces, 131 coats, 129 hats, 98 scarfs and 64 pairs of gloves, before delivering the goodies to Crisis Skylight’s HQ in City Road, Newcastle.

Crisis Skylight Newcastle works closely with local hostels and shelters to support single people experiencing homelessness.

The charity will distribute the clothing and toiletries to up to 400 people currently sleeping on the streets and in hostels on Christmas Day and Boxing Day, who will also enjoy a hot festive meal at its Newcastle centre.

Nicola Wylde, from The Co-operative’s Membership team, who co-ordinated The Co-operative’s appeal, said:

“As a community retailer, it is vital we support local good causes and we are pleased to have worked with Crisis Skylight Newcastle to help provide much needed warm winter clothing for the homeless in the area in time for Christmas.

“We’d like to thank our customers and colleagues for their support and generosity, which has been overwhelming and exceeded all our expectations.

“Their unwanted winter woollies will make a massive difference to those in need, and will also help Crisis provide a lifeline to its guests this Christmas, and help them take their first steps out of homelessness.”

Ian Richards, head of Crisis at Christmas, added:

“Without the generous support of donors, volunteers and partners, Crisis at Christmas would not be possible. We would like to thank The Co-operative for their fantastic support which will help us to provide a lifeline for our guests this Christmas, and help them take their first steps out of homelessness.”

Any items left over after the Christmas Day and Boxing Day events will be donated to Storehouse, a local charitable organisation supporting people in poverty.

Source –  Newcastle Evening Chronicle, 24 Dec 2014

Newcastle City Council jobs and services ‘at risk’ to be revealed two days before Christmas

Hundreds of city workers face a black Christmas as the scale of £40m council cuts is announced on December 23.

Newcastle City Council’s will release the finer details of their budget reduction plans and the number of potential job losses just two days before Christmas Day.

The December announcement is expected to include firm figures on where the axe will fall on certain council departments and how future Sure Start services will be run.

Paul Gilroy, Newcastle branch secretary for Unison, said the timing before Christmas was unavoidable due to the budget setting time-table but given the looming holiday period more details should be passed onto workers beforehand as a priority.

I’m hoping that before December 23 the majority of that detail is shared. The council report will have details of the savings and number of jobs to be cut.

“You won’t be able to see that it’s your job that could be cut, but you will be able to see that your area might need to save ‘X’ amount of money, and that so many jobs are under review.

“The problem at the moment is the size of the cut and I’m not sure there’s any particular area of the council that won’t see cutbacks.

“It’s not going to be positive time of year for anybody. Christmas is usually the time of year when you overspend. It’s a time of year when you should be letting your hair down and instead it’s the time of year when you might be worrying about potentially not having a job in the future.”

Newcastle City Council needs to cut £40m from its budget for 2015/16 following a reduction in its Central Government revenue support grant and rising cost pressures.

In October they released rough plans on the areas they would like to make savings from, including city parks, road sweeping, the number of public bins and reducing the night-time nuisance noise service.

Unions are prepared for an announcement that up to 400 jobs will be at risk, on top of the 1300 posts due to be scrapped by 2016.

Val Scott, regional organiser for the GMB, whose 3500 city council members include catering staff and care workers, said there was never a good time of year to make an announcement on job losses and the pain of entering into a potential consultation period was felt as acutely in summer as in winter.

She said:

“With public services this is an ongoing thing and there’s never a good time for this announcement to be made.

“Budgets are really stretched by the Government at this moment in time and people are losing their jobs left, right and centre and unfortunately public services are having to deal with a disproportionate cut to the North East.

“The budget cuts are common knowledge but this is getting down to the nitty gritty and identifying job losses, which makes it extremely difficult.”

She said council proposals to transfer the running of some city parks over to civic trusts, to avoid an annual £1.1m maintenance bill, did not ‘sit well’ with the union.

These proposals are up for discussion and we will try everything that we can to object to that as it is not something that we advocate.

“There’s volunteer services which are crucial. In terms of doing a volunteer job where it’s been a previous council job then I’m not satisfied with that position,” she said.

On December 23 draft budget plans will be prepared for the city’s cabinet with the formal consultation period starting after a full city council meeting in January.

The final budget will be set in April.

Source –  Newcastle Evening Chronicle,  06 Nov 2014

Gateshead mum tells how she was forced to live off emergency food parcels

Tears rolling down her cheeks, mum Katie Friend reveals the true cost of austerity.

In an emotional outburst she reveals the measures she resorted to just to feed her son.

Katie and husband Mal ate tinned casserole and powdered mash potato, while two-year-old Theo unwrapped presents from the charity shop on Christmas Day.

They were later forced to resort to emergency food parcels to give Theo a birthday party to disguise to him they were living on the bread line.

And today, Katie, a trained nursery nurse, tells how the family would have gone hungry if it wasn’t for the volunteers at the Gateshead Foodbank.

The 24-year-old, who now works part-time in a laundry, is telling her story to erase the stigma associated with foodbanks and to help other families in need.

Katie, whose husband has now found a full-time job, said:

“I have been brought up not to ask for help. I come from a proud family and when you’re struggling you just have to get on with it.

“My husband is very much the same but we had to swallow our pride – not just for us but for Theo. He needed food.

“I came down to the foodbank and I was actually shaking. I was terrified, I felt so embarrassed and ashamed and felt like such a bad mum.

“I thought I would come in and find homeless people queuing up. I came in and it was lovely and bright and I was greeted with a smile.

“It was the total opposite of what I thought it was going to be.”

The Friends were plunged into poverty when their benefits were sanctioned just days before Christmas last year.

Katie desperately tried to hide the fact she was struggling until organisers at St Chad’s Community Project noticed something was wrong.

And as she faced Christmas without any food she plucked up the courage to visit Gateshead Foodbank in the centre of Gateshead.

Volunteers provided her with emergency food parcels to get her through the festive period.

She said:

“We were sat having sandwiches. I was sat with my husband and my son cuddled up on the sofa watching the TV. My son opened presents from the charity shop.

“He appreciated them and we had a good day.

“When I think of what somebody else had at Christmas and what we had at Christmas I think it’s hard for somebody to believe that’s what we did.

“Everybody expects everyone can afford to have that day but not everyone can. We would have been able to afford that if we hadn’t have had that sanction.

“I’ll always remember that Christmas, the Christmas we couldn’t afford to have.

“We had tinned casserole and powdered mash potato but we could have had no food. I had a smile on my face on Christmas morning and I wouldn’t have had that if it wasn’t for the foodbank.”

The benefit sanction was lifted after Christmas and Katie and her husband began to get their lives back on track.

But in a second blow – just months later – the family had to resort to handouts when their welfare was recalculated.

And with Theo’s birthday just around the corner and food to find for a pre-planned party Katie received help from the foodbank again.

She said:

“It takes over your whole life. People say your in a dark place but you don’t see anything else going on. When I look back I was really down.

“I had the idea that the foodbank was just for homeless people and we weren’t entitled to anything. People donate the food to help people in your situation and you shouldn’t feel bad.

“It has been given for a purpose, you don’t have to feel bad.

“I’m so glad I swallowed my pride. I wasn’t a bad parent, I was a better parent for providing for my child and getting help.”

She added: “I’m just a normal person and just one of many people that got into this situation.”

The foodbank, which has been open nearly two years, is ran by volunteers from churches in Gateshead. It works with care professionals, GPs and the Citizens Advice Bureau to distribute food to those families in need in the town.

They provide three days of emergency food to people who find themselves in need.

For more information, call 0191 487 0898 or email info@gateshead.foodbank.org.uk

Source –  Newcastle Evening chronicle, 17 Oct 2014