Super Seal Window Systems in Magherafelt may have to lay off up to a third of its 90 staff, if contractual problems with NIHE are not resolved.
Managing director Ken Taylor said that due to the recent controversy involving alleged overpayments, new contracts from NIHE have been held up and could be tied up in legal red tape for 3 months.
However, Mr. Taylor pointed out that in terms of his company, decisions on jobs would have to be made ‘within days’. This could mean some staff being put on a 3-day week, or eventually layoffs involving redundancy payments that would impose a severe financial strain on the company.
SDLP MLA Patsy McGlone added that Super Seal and 2 other leading window manufacturers, McIlhattons of Ballymoney and Western of Coalisland, may have to lay off up to 110 staff between the 3 of them.
Ken Taylor believes that when the contractors who buy and fit the windows for NIHE are taken into account, that figure could easily double.
Patsy McGlone has urged the NIHE to consider the position of all window manufacturers who face job losses if contractual issues cannot be resolved.
Mr Mc Glone who is the chair of the All Party Group on Construction has, along with a number of others, written to the NIHE to seek a resolution of this stalling in the double glazing programme. He said:
“I have met a number of window manufacturers over the last number of months and they are deeply concerned at the consequences of the delay in resolving contractual matters. Many of these manufacturers rely on the NIHE double glazing programme to maintain a viable and functioning business.
“I understand that as many as 110 jobs are under threat as a result of the delay in the award of the new contract and that has been further compounded by the uncertainty arising from recent statements on alleged overpayments to contractors.
“The stark reality is that any further hold up in agreeing a contract between the NIHE and the main contractors threatens to put these supply companies in real danger.
“I met with a delegation of senior NIHE staff last week and I believe the matter will be discussed at a board meeting tomorrow (31 July). I sincerely hope there can be a satisfactory resolution of this matter and one which allows the NIHE to spend the funds earmarked for the double glazing programme.
“I would urge the Board and Management of the NIHE to find a creative solution and release at least some of the work on a short term basis and relieve the pressure on manufacturers. With jobs at stake it is essential that urgent action is taken to resolve this impasse. We regularly hear of job losses due to a lack of work or lack of money. The irony in this case is that there is plenty of work and the money in place to pay for it.”