BNP wades into Nortel redundancy row

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BNP wades into Nortel redundancy row

Alex Scroxton
The controversy surrounding this year's job losses at Nortel's UK operation has taken a bizarre turn after the far-right British National Party waded into the row.
 
In an open letter to the administrators, Ernst & Young, party leader Nick Griffin claimed he was "under no illusions about the root cause of this disgraceful episode lies [sic] in the global economy".
 
"Your company still have the power [sic] to assert human morality against the imperatives of the financial machine," he railed, proclaiming that he would "free Britain from this global system before it ruins not merely the lives of individuals but the life of the planet as a whole!"
 
Ernst & Young has come in for considerable criticism over the handling of approximately 380 redundancies at Nortel's UK operation during 2009, facing allegations that employees were let go without consultation or redundancy pay, whilst the North American operation was finding the cash to pay hefty retention bonuses to key executives.
 
In a previous statement sent to MicroScope, Ernst & Young defended its policy, saying: "Redundant employee claims are treated in accordance with insolvency law which sets out a priority of payments and the Joint Administrators, as officers of the Court, will comply with this fully.
 
"Redundancy, pay in lieu of notice and other benefit claims are unsecured and these claims must be treated equally with the claims of other unsecured creditors as specified by UK legislation. The Redundancy Payments Service [has] paid the statutory element of claims for non-payment of notice and redundancy pay.
 
"No consultation took place as it was not reasonably practicable to do so; and employment legislation recognises that there are situations in which swift action needs to be taken and it is not reasonably practicable to consult," the statement concluded.
 
Griffin, who was elected as MEP for the north-west of England in May 2009, has no known connection with Nortel or its laid-off employees, most of whom are based in Northern Ireland, outside his constituency.
 
Radical support has also been forthcoming from the other side of the political spectrum, with Irish anarchist groups lending their support to picketing Nortel workers.
 
Ernst & Young stood by its previous comments, and at the time of writing had not dignified the BNP's statement with a response, while a Nortel spokesperson declined to comment.

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