A Leyland firm has now temporarily closed after staff staged a mass walk-out in protest over pay.
The Guardian reported last week how workers at Creative Lead Finder’s call centre in King’s Court, King Street, claimed they hadn’t been paid their wages in full for the past four to six weeks.
Now, the director has notified the furious staff that the base has temporarily closed, until enough money is generated to pay the wages.
But after people were seen clearing the ground floor offices of its computers and equipment last week, fears are rising that the call centre, which specialises in solar panels, may not re-open.
A group of worried workers even held a protest outside the building on Saturday.
More than 100 staff refused to continue working for the company, which opened under the name Ultra Energy last October, and have now been advised to look for another job by director Mandie Jessop.
In an email sent to her employees last week, seen by the Guardian, Mrs Jessop wrote: “Leyland is temporarily closed until they are able to find the money to pay everyone what they are owed.
“I’ve been assured that every penny owed will be paid to people as soon as possible.
“In the meantime we are all in the same situation and job hunting.
“I will of course be more than happy to complete references for everyone.
“I apologise to you all that the company I’ve represented had massively impacted you all and has left many in impossible situations.”
But workers are also concerned about the involvement of the firm’s consultant, David Diaz, also known as David Black, whose energy companies have been investigated in the past.
One company, Solar Energy Solutions, was shut down in the public interest by the High Court, months after Mr Diaz resigned as director.
A spokesman for the Renewable Energy Consumer Code, set up by the Renewable Energy Association, told the Guardian that Mr Diaz is ‘within the monitoring programme’ and the issue is ‘being looked into’.
A spokesman for the Citizen’s Advice Bureau (CAB) said the situation in Leyland has affected about 100 people and said CAB has been contacted by around 25 of those.
He said: “Appointments were made last week and more have been booked for this week.
“The main issue which seems to be arising is helping people to establish if they are self-employed or employees of the company.
“The difference between the employment statuses is significant because that determines what rights people have.
“The advice we are giving depends on individual circumstances, but if anyone from the South Ribble or Chorley area is affected by this, I would ask them to call us on 01772 424282.”