TWENTY employees of a defunct Huddersfield training company are fighting for their rights.
The staff, who worked for Enterprise Solutions Training Ltd, are mounting a legal action.
The training firm ceased trading following a protracted row with Kirklees College which refused to pay it amid concerns over quality in September 2009.
Around 40 employees went months without pay before directors pulled the plug last month, saying “regrettably, we cannot see a way forward”.
Around half the employees are now in discussions with Huddersfield solicitors Wilkinson Woodward.
They are pursuing claims for a “protective award” and related claims including redundancy and unfair dismissal against the company.
The protective award is made by a Tribunal where there has been a failure to consult employees in mass redundancy situations.
The claims will be submitted to the Leeds Employment Tribunal and are likely to be heard sometime next year.
Wilkinson Woodward partner Jon Dyson said: “This group of employees appears to have been treated shabbily by ESTL who have strung them along not paying wages which were due to them and then putting the company into administration.”
He said he was having difficulty dealing with administrators and working to “unravel a corporate web” left in the aftermath of the closure of ESTL, which had premises at Kirkburton.
He added: “These workers have been treated very poorly. They have been kept in the dark about what was happening and they haven’t been paid for the work they were doing.
“The way the process works is the tribunal makes an award and then we have to go to the Government’s insolvency fund which can pay out.
“Generally, however, this is limited to eight weeks of pay.”
The situation for former employees of the firm appeared bleaker last month when the principal of Kirklees College said no payment would be made to the firm, which had been commissioned to provide taxi driving qualifications and retail courses.
After receiving a report into the services offered by the firm, principal Chris Sadler told the Examiner: “On the basis of the report, the legal advice we have been given is that Kirklees College should not pay any of the money allegedly owed to ESTL.
“Wherever possible we will be making arrangements to contact and support any trainees who did not complete a course.”
The employees were handed over from “Enterprise Solutions Training Ltd” to ESTL Ltd in July 2010.
Depending on who the tribunal declares is their actual employer, the solicitor may have to begin winding up proceedings before any claim could be made.
Former directors of ESTL were unavailable for comment.
Wilkinson Woodward want to hear from other affected employees on 01484 483800.