Beamlight Automotive Seating in Eastwood has gone into administration leaving nearly 200 people facing the threat of redundancy.
Staff were called into a meeting on Monday morning and sent home after being told there was no money to pay them amid claims the firm’s main customer had defaulted on a payment of £400,000.
One worker who has been there for 30 years said: “We were called into the canteen at 9am and told to go home by 9.30am.
“I’ve been there for years. I was gutted.”
Magna Seating, Beamlight’s main customer, pays the firm £400,000 per month for the supply of Renault and Ford car seats.
But Beamlight bosses say they defaulted on October’s payment meaning the company could not afford to pay staff wages and had no choice but to call in administrators – a claim Magna deny.
The site worker, who did not want to be named, said: “They said we don’t think it’s fair for you to carry on working when you’ve not been paid. They said if Magna don’t pay us, we can’t pay you.
“We all got up Monday morning with nothing in the bank, with bills needing to be paid. We’re all still in shock.”
A total of 59 staff have remained at the site working on the smaller contracts but the other 190 have been suspended while admistrators, FRP Advisory, negotiate with Magna.
“We don’t know where we are. We’re stuck in limbo land. I’m sitting by the phone,” said the Beamlight employee.
The 53-year-old said he had heard earlier in the week from a workmate that the company had been ‘asset stripping’.
“Apparently they’ve been pricing up the machines and all the fork trucks out on hire have been taken back,” he said.
“That doesn’t sound like good news. And what chance have I got getting another job at my age with all these youngsters out of work?”
Beamlight administrator Nigel Hamilton-Smith said that he wants to see employees back in work but said it was currently ‘out of his hands’.
And he warned that while there was potential for another buyer, that would not necessarily help the current employees.
“There is potential but it’s not on the horizon at the minute and will not help the 190 people suspended,” he added.
“Unless I can reach an agreement shortly they will be laid off.
“I have spoken to union representatives and at the minute we are hopeful of saving jobs and not making people redundant.
Mr Hamilton-Smith said he would contact staff today, October 19, with an update.
Beamlight started off as Wire Ropes in 1934, and later became Birnham Products.