Fundraisers double appeal target for Kaiam workers

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Kaiam Corporation office in LivingstonImage source, Kaiam
Image caption,
More than 300 people were made redundant from the Kaiam factory just before Christmas

An appeal to help computer factory workers who lost their jobs just before Christmas has doubled its target after a surge in donations.

Fundraisers initially hoped to raise £10,000 for staff at the Kaiam factory in West Lothian.

But by Boxing Day the crowdfunding total had topped £17,500. A new target of £20,000 has now been set.

More than 300 workers at the plant in Livingston were made redundant without being paid wages.

They will have to claim their wages through the Insolvency Service.

The appeal was set up by Mhairi Duff, who works in a community centre in Livingston.

Image source, Mhairi Duff
Image caption,
Mhairi Duff said the community had come together to support the Kaiam workers

She wrote: "Employees of Kaiam have been left with no wages over the Christmas period.

"The community have come together amazingly to help ease Christmas a little but these employees still have bills to pay and families to feed.

"Every penny is hugely appreciated. Thank you."

Local people and businesses have also made thousands of pounds worth of donations to help Kaiam employees

The community response was led by Emma Black, whose step-father is employed by Kaiam.

Many people donated toys or vouchers and any left over after the Christmas holiday will be distributed to local charities.

Image source, Emma Black
Image caption,
Thousands of pounds worth of toys and vouchers have been donated by local people and businesses

Administrators KPMG told the staff the redundancies were due to declining work levels, high operational costs and lack of customer orders at the factory, which manufactures optical receivers.

In a statement, it said it recognised redundancies at this time of year are particularly difficult and its main focus is ensuring support is available to those laid off.

Of the 310 staff, 28 have been retained to help the administrators explore a sale of the business.

Inquiry call

Meanwhile, Scottish Labour has called for an inquiry into government grants given to companies such as Kaiam Europe and Kaiam UK.

Kaiam announced in 2014 it had been given an £850,000 Scottish Enterprise grant to expand the Livingston site by moving production facilities there from China.

Labour's Neil Findlay wants an enquiry to examine how government grants, loans and other financial support are handed out, what conditions apply and whether or not this is a good use of public money.

He also wants the inquiry to discover how such money is recouped if the business awarded support fails, or the company does not fulfil its obligations relating to the initial award of the grant.

Scottish Business Minister Jamie Hepburn said he was "very concerned" about Kaiam going into administration.

He said Scottish Enterprise had been working closely with the firm but "unfortunately, a solution could not be found to turn the company's situation around".

He added: "Scottish Enterprise will work with the administrators to understand the potential options for the business going forward and explore all possibilities to rescue the jobs."

He said the Scottish government's Partnership Action for Continuing Employment programme was ready to help the workforce with skills development and employability support.

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