Unite the union member Trevor Hall accuses Dursley engineering firm Lister Petter of "letting staff down"

Gazette Series: Dursley diesel engineering firm Lister Petter to enter administration Dursley diesel engineering firm Lister Petter to enter administration

A UNION leader representing staff made redundant at Lister Petter which faces administration has slammed the firm’s management for its poor handling of the business.

The diesel engine-producing company, which has presided in Dursley for over 140 years and employed 5,000 people at its height faces liquidation unless it finds a buyer soon.

Around 29 employees at the ailing engineering firm have been made redundant since CBA Insolvency Practitioners was brought in to deal with the crisis on Thursday last week.

The debt-ridden business had already made around 77 staff redundant in the last few months but it has seemingly not been enough to keep the company afloat.

While the Leicester-based insolvency firm is filing a notice to the courts applying to take Lister Petter into administration tomorrow, scores of staff have already been filling in their redundancy application forms.

They will have to seek redundancy payments from the Government as the company cannot afford it.

UNITE the Union regional officer Trevor Hall, who also worked at Lister Petter in the 70s and lives in Dursley, said it was a terrible shame for the people of the town.

He is highly critical of the current management and blames the company's predicament on them.

“Over the last three years there has been a decline,” he said.

“You have to run the business pretty badly with such a strong order book to get into this kind of trouble.”

Mr Hall told the Gazette the administrator had said the company’s £20million order book could be attractive to potential buyers but the huge amount of debt could also put them off.

He estimated that there were around 100 employees left, 65 of which are shop floor workers and about 90 per cent are UNITE members.

He told the Gazette the majority were able to walk to the Dursley factory but may struggle to find another job nearby.

“They feel let down by the company,” he said.

“They are very disillusioned and are worried about their futures and their families.

“These are not highly paid people but they are highly skilled and have done a good job for a long time in difficult circumstances.

“They have taken pain for the good of the company and I do not think they have been rewarded very well.”

Mr Hall added that the union was keen to help in talks with any potential buyers.

“If somebody could save it they could have a good future there,” he said.

“The union and the workforce would work with anybody that would come in as long as they are fair to the staff.

“It would be absolutely devastating to the town if it goes under.

“It was bad enough that they were moving to Hardwicke but the actual thought of going out of business all together is devastating.”

Leader of Stroud District Council (SDC) and Dursley Cllr Geoff Wheeler said the news was “extremely regrettable” but did not come as a surprise.

The former Dursley mayor said the council’s offer to finance the firm’s move to a purpose-built facility in Hardwicke at the cost of around £100,000 was now off.

“We wait to see the outcome now the company is in administration but we have been preparing for the worst, with our partner agencies, so that we can help employees and mitigate against the fallout from such situations,” he said.

“Protecting jobs in the district is a priority and we had plans in place to help Lister Petter move to new premises and achieve this aim, but under the current circumstances we would just be pouring money into a black hole.”

Earlier this month SDC set up a task force to address the issue of job losses in Cam, Dursley and Berkeley.

Stroud MP Neil Carmichael, who has requested a meeting with Lister Petter directors to offer his support, has blamed the now defunct South West Regional Development Agency (SWRDA) for the company’s current position.

SWRDA bought the land at Lister Petter for £15million in 2000 and set about redeveloping the area with developers St Modwen.

When SWRDA was abolished in 2012, the land was transferred to Stroud District Council but Mr Carmichael has criticised the agency for not catering for Lister Petter on the new site and instead focused on housing.

He described it as a “disastrous intervention, effectively thwarting opportunities for modernisation and investment”.

“Mercifully the SWRDA was abolished by the coalition government – although sadly it was too late for Lister Petter,” he said.

“I will do all I can to help ensure that further opportunities in engineering and manufacturing are created within the area.”

But his comments have been slammed by Mr Hall and former Stroud MP David Drew, who was involved in helping the firm when it first went into administration in 2003.

“It has been one of the saddest weeks I have ever known. We worked so hard to keep the firm going,” he said.

“The work force did what they did best and found a way out with the move to the facility at Hardwicke and then to get the news that they have gone into administration, it is very upsetting.

“I thought Neil Carmichael’s remarks were very insensitive because the RDA stepped in to save the company and save the jobs the last time.”

Mr Drew said staff were “shell-shocked and frustrated” and was surprised at the quick decision by the administrator to axe jobs.

“These are the jobs that give the company a future and I am not sure why the administrator is so quick to take action when they do give the company a future,” he said.

Dursley mayor, Cllr Jane Ball, said Dursley Town Council was saddened to hear the news.

“Our thoughts are with all the employees and their families who will be affected,” she said.

Lister Petter and have not responded to the Gazette’s requests for a comment.

Comments (10)

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11:17am Thu 27 Mar 14

Baldee says...

I am absolutely incredulous at the comments made by the local MP, Neil Carmichael.

To blame the demise of Lister Petter on the defunct Regional Development Agency is totally wrong and demonstrates two things:

1, Total ignorance of the situation on behalf of Mr Carmichael
2, A willingness to attempt to score cheap political points off the back of scores of local people losing their livelihoods.

As David Drew said, the RDA stepped in to help the company after it went into administration 11 years ago. The company has known that it has to move for years, and planned accordingly. The proposed move to Hardwicke has nothing whatsoever to do with Lister Petter’s current woes.

The company’s problems stem from poor management, pure and simple. They have an excellent brand, great products and a healthy order book. However, when you never pay your suppliers then eventually they will refuse to supply you. No matter how healthy the order book if you can’t fulfil orders because your suppliers won’t provide you with the parts you need, then that’s a recipe for disaster.

In addition, the company did not have a handle on costs. Despite paying poorly and not giving most employees a pay rise for over 6 years, the directors continued to act as if they worked for a highly profitable company. Hunting parties, trips to luxury hotels and spas, hundreds of thousands paid to ‘consultants’ and shadow companies – including individuals rocking up to the factory in Ferraris to hand out redundancy notices – all of this is symptomatic of senior management who haven’t a clue.

It’s also telling that Neil Carmichael ‘has requested a meeting with the directors to offer his support’. Funny how he doesn’t want to extend that support to the hundreds of his constituents who have recently lost their jobs in Lister Petter and at other employers in Cam and Dursley. That’s because he couldn’t give a hoot about ordinary people, especially those in our area.

He knows that Brand Carmichael is toxic in Cam and Dursley, that’s why he does nothing for the area. Rather than being a responsible, caring local MP, all we get are absurd platitudes like the ‘Carmichael Commission’, vague statements about a third Severn Crossing and cheap political point scoring off the back of the misery of hundreds of local families.

His comments about why the Littlecombe site was only focused on housing continue to expose how clueless Carmichael is. It’s his government that has opened the floodgates to indiscriminate housing development across the district. Littlecombe has been developed as a mixed use site, with light industrial units and housing, Lister Petter have known about the move to Hardwicke for years – it has nothing to do with their current predicament.

I am increasingly fed up with having a local MP who couldn’t care less about his constituents. I’m looking forward to next May when we can eject this parachuted-in chancer and elect someone who cares about our area and actively works to make it better for ordinary people, something Carmichael has never done.
I am absolutely incredulous at the comments made by the local MP, Neil Carmichael. To blame the demise of Lister Petter on the defunct Regional Development Agency is totally wrong and demonstrates two things: 1, Total ignorance of the situation on behalf of Mr Carmichael 2, A willingness to attempt to score cheap political points off the back of scores of local people losing their livelihoods. As David Drew said, the RDA stepped in to help the company after it went into administration 11 years ago. The company has known that it has to move for years, and planned accordingly. The proposed move to Hardwicke has nothing whatsoever to do with Lister Petter’s current woes. The company’s problems stem from poor management, pure and simple. They have an excellent brand, great products and a healthy order book. However, when you never pay your suppliers then eventually they will refuse to supply you. No matter how healthy the order book if you can’t fulfil orders because your suppliers won’t provide you with the parts you need, then that’s a recipe for disaster. In addition, the company did not have a handle on costs. Despite paying poorly and not giving most employees a pay rise for over 6 years, the directors continued to act as if they worked for a highly profitable company. Hunting parties, trips to luxury hotels and spas, hundreds of thousands paid to ‘consultants’ and shadow companies – including individuals rocking up to the factory in Ferraris to hand out redundancy notices – all of this is symptomatic of senior management who haven’t a clue. It’s also telling that Neil Carmichael ‘has requested a meeting with the directors to offer his support’. Funny how he doesn’t want to extend that support to the hundreds of his constituents who have recently lost their jobs in Lister Petter and at other employers in Cam and Dursley. That’s because he couldn’t give a hoot about ordinary people, especially those in our area. He knows that Brand Carmichael is toxic in Cam and Dursley, that’s why he does nothing for the area. Rather than being a responsible, caring local MP, all we get are absurd platitudes like the ‘Carmichael Commission’, vague statements about a third Severn Crossing and cheap political point scoring off the back of the misery of hundreds of local families. His comments about why the Littlecombe site was only focused on housing continue to expose how clueless Carmichael is. It’s his government that has opened the floodgates to indiscriminate housing development across the district. Littlecombe has been developed as a mixed use site, with light industrial units and housing, Lister Petter have known about the move to Hardwicke for years – it has nothing to do with their current predicament. I am increasingly fed up with having a local MP who couldn’t care less about his constituents. I’m looking forward to next May when we can eject this parachuted-in chancer and elect someone who cares about our area and actively works to make it better for ordinary people, something Carmichael has never done. Baldee
  • Score: 14

3:04am Fri 28 Mar 14

BothEyes says...

Another flagship of the British empire scuttled by socialists, now sinks into the depths of malaise and sloth of poor government intervention, while ridden down by entitled union parasites. Meanwhile the sharks circle, eyeing the bones to be picked clean as the beast falters and will be less likely to defend against the roughians who will gorge on the intellectual property left behind.
Another flagship of the British empire scuttled by socialists, now sinks into the depths of malaise and sloth of poor government intervention, while ridden down by entitled union parasites. Meanwhile the sharks circle, eyeing the bones to be picked clean as the beast falters and will be less likely to defend against the roughians who will gorge on the intellectual property left behind. BothEyes
  • Score: -10

10:11am Fri 28 Mar 14

Baldee says...

BothEyes:

Drivel. You seem to know as much about the situation as Carmichael.

Lister's demise has nothing to do with 'socialists', 'government intervention' or 'union parasites'.

The union has not taken industrial action or had any responsibility whatsoever for the company's current woes. The way staff have been treated, they had every right to, but they haven't.

God knows what 'socialists' have to do with anything.

It is clear that the problem is a poorly-run company, something you'd realise if you had any idea what you're talking about.

Probably best if you don't comment on things you know nothing about. It just makes you look a bit silly.
BothEyes: Drivel. You seem to know as much about the situation as Carmichael. Lister's demise has nothing to do with 'socialists', 'government intervention' or 'union parasites'. The union has not taken industrial action or had any responsibility whatsoever for the company's current woes. The way staff have been treated, they had every right to, but they haven't. God knows what 'socialists' have to do with anything. It is clear that the problem is a poorly-run company, something you'd realise if you had any idea what you're talking about. Probably best if you don't comment on things you know nothing about. It just makes you look a bit silly. Baldee
  • Score: 8

12:34pm Sat 29 Mar 14

Thornburyboy says...

If the union knows how to run the company better than the management then now is the opportunity to demonstrate that. The administrators will be interested in hearing from anyone who can salvage a working company from the wreckage. However, as with all left wingers, unions only know how to carp from the sidelines and consume resources but have no clue whatsoever about creating wealth. Put up or shut up.
If the union knows how to run the company better than the management then now is the opportunity to demonstrate that. The administrators will be interested in hearing from anyone who can salvage a working company from the wreckage. However, as with all left wingers, unions only know how to carp from the sidelines and consume resources but have no clue whatsoever about creating wealth. Put up or shut up. Thornburyboy
  • Score: -6

2:47pm Mon 31 Mar 14

Baldee says...

ThornburyBoy:

Oh dear, more confusion/delusion on this subject by those who don’t seem to know what they’re talking about.

Just to remind you – unions exist to look after the interests of their members, not to run businesses. They have no more business operating a private company than the police, the British Army or the Queen! What are you going to do next – criticise the Royal Navy for not running Lister Petter efficiently?!!

In this case, the union at Listers have done all they can to support senior management. When you work for a company that hasn’t given staff a pay rise in years, that is constantly making people redundant, that’s been driven into administration by incompetence and one where a bloke arrives in a new Ferrari to hand out pre-Christmas dole notices, then perhaps they might have grounds to criticise the way the company is/was run.

I realise that you’re simply regurgitating the tired old lines that the Daily Mail tells you to, but if you’re going to comment on something, perhaps you might have the common decency to find out about the situation you’re commenting on instead of displaying your own personal prejudices.

If you can’t be bothered to do that, YOU should put up or shut up.
ThornburyBoy: Oh dear, more confusion/delusion on this subject by those who don’t seem to know what they’re talking about. Just to remind you – unions exist to look after the interests of their members, not to run businesses. They have no more business operating a private company than the police, the British Army or the Queen! What are you going to do next – criticise the Royal Navy for not running Lister Petter efficiently?!! In this case, the union at Listers have done all they can to support senior management. When you work for a company that hasn’t given staff a pay rise in years, that is constantly making people redundant, that’s been driven into administration by incompetence and one where a bloke arrives in a new Ferrari to hand out pre-Christmas dole notices, then perhaps they might have grounds to criticise the way the company is/was run. I realise that you’re simply regurgitating the tired old lines that the Daily Mail tells you to, but if you’re going to comment on something, perhaps you might have the common decency to find out about the situation you’re commenting on instead of displaying your own personal prejudices. If you can’t be bothered to do that, YOU should put up or shut up. Baldee
  • Score: 5

9:48am Wed 2 Apr 14

Thornburyboy says...

Thank you for confirming each of my points. You can't run a company and are therefore in no position to judge those who do. All you offer is carping from the sidelines, no positive proposals, accept no responsibility and reinforce your complete lack of rational argument with personal abuse. All this culminating in abject failure to defend the interests of your members who are now out of work.
Thank you for confirming each of my points. You can't run a company and are therefore in no position to judge those who do. All you offer is carping from the sidelines, no positive proposals, accept no responsibility and reinforce your complete lack of rational argument with personal abuse. All this culminating in abject failure to defend the interests of your members who are now out of work. Thornburyboy
  • Score: -3

11:04am Wed 2 Apr 14

Baldee says...

You really are wearing your ignorance on your sleeve, aren’t you?

Firstly, I’m nothing to do with any union – I’m simply commenting on the situation at Lister Petter from a position of knowledge – something that you’re not doing.

If you’re that bothered about what’s happening down there, why don’t you contact the union/company direct and offer your pearls of wisdom to them, instead of carping from behind your keyboard?

Second, get the difference between disagreeing with your opinion and ‘personal abuse’ straight in your head. Otherwise, you’re going to spend your whole life being offended.

Third, the union has supported the company throughout its difficulties, but again you wouldn’t know that because you couldn’t be bothered to find out. Instead, you’re simply dumping your blinkered personal prejudices on the situation. So easy, but unfortunately so lazy to do that from behind the safety of your keyboard, isn’t it?

Meanwhile, yet more staff are being made redundant at Lister Petter. According to Thornburyboy that will probably be their fault, or the union’s fault, or global warming, or an international communist plot – indeed anything except management incompetence because that’s just impossible, isn’t it Thornburyboy?

You seem to be having a go at the union for not running the company (!). You claim that they should not be judging those who do. Really? Are you actually saying that none of us should judge or form an opinion on a matter that we have no personal expertise in? You mean just like you are?

Do you lack self-awareness to the point that you can’t even grasp your own hypocrisy?
You really are wearing your ignorance on your sleeve, aren’t you? Firstly, I’m nothing to do with any union – I’m simply commenting on the situation at Lister Petter from a position of knowledge – something that you’re not doing. If you’re that bothered about what’s happening down there, why don’t you contact the union/company direct and offer your pearls of wisdom to them, instead of carping from behind your keyboard? Second, get the difference between disagreeing with your opinion and ‘personal abuse’ straight in your head. Otherwise, you’re going to spend your whole life being offended. Third, the union has supported the company throughout its difficulties, but again you wouldn’t know that because you couldn’t be bothered to find out. Instead, you’re simply dumping your blinkered personal prejudices on the situation. So easy, but unfortunately so lazy to do that from behind the safety of your keyboard, isn’t it? Meanwhile, yet more staff are being made redundant at Lister Petter. According to Thornburyboy that will probably be their fault, or the union’s fault, or global warming, or an international communist plot – indeed anything except management incompetence because that’s just impossible, isn’t it Thornburyboy? You seem to be having a go at the union for not running the company (!). You claim that they should not be judging those who do. Really? Are you actually saying that none of us should judge or form an opinion on a matter that we have no personal expertise in? You mean just like you are? Do you lack self-awareness to the point that you can’t even grasp your own hypocrisy? Baldee
  • Score: 5

11:31am Wed 2 Apr 14

Thornburyboy says...

As I said, no rational argument just personal abuse.
As I said, no rational argument just personal abuse. Thornburyboy
  • Score: -4

11:48am Wed 2 Apr 14

Baldee says...

You continue to have nothing to say as you realise that you don't know what your talking about..

Thank you for confirming this.
You continue to have nothing to say as you realise that you don't know what your talking about.. Thank you for confirming this. Baldee
  • Score: 4

11:24pm Wed 2 Apr 14

anonski says...

Thornburyboy wrote:
Thank you for confirming each of my points. You can't run a company and are therefore in no position to judge those who do. All you offer is carping from the sidelines, no positive proposals, accept no responsibility and reinforce your complete lack of rational argument with personal abuse. All this culminating in abject failure to defend the interests of your members who are now out of work.
knew friend who used to work for this company in Kent factory. 'Health and safety very poor, 5 x 12 hour shifts n/d, mostly polish workers, very cavalier management who's main concern apparently was in their company cars and egos'.
[quote][p][bold]Thornburyboy[/bold] wrote: Thank you for confirming each of my points. You can't run a company and are therefore in no position to judge those who do. All you offer is carping from the sidelines, no positive proposals, accept no responsibility and reinforce your complete lack of rational argument with personal abuse. All this culminating in abject failure to defend the interests of your members who are now out of work.[/p][/quote]knew friend who used to work for this company in Kent factory. 'Health and safety very poor, 5 x 12 hour shifts n/d, mostly polish workers, very cavalier management who's main concern apparently was in their company cars and egos'. anonski
  • Score: 3

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