An MSP has ramped up the pressure on ministers to pay workers money owed when scandal-struck clinical waste company Healthcare Environmental Services (HES) closed in December.
Labour’s Monica Lennon said at Holyrood that a fund should be created to ensure cash owed by the NHS to the company was instead paid to its former employees.
HES ceased operations in late December after losing a raft of contracts. Recently uncovered inspection reports showed that human body parts had been stored by the North Lanarkshire-based company in unrefrigerated units for more than six months.
More than 1,400 signatures have been collected in a petition calling on the Scottish Government to pay staff cash they are allegedly owed.
Lennon said it had been reported that NHS boards owed HES £450,000.
“Meanwhile, HES workers still have not been paid their final wages after they were let go at Christmas,” she added. “Does the first minister agree with me that any outstanding payments from the NHS boards should be used to create a special fund for HES staff who cannot afford to be out of pocket any longer?”
Last month, some former staff at HES claimed they were having to rely on food banks after the company collapsed. An open letter warned of “hundreds of employment tribunals”.
A Scottish Government spokesperson said: “Payments made by NHS boards to HES relate to services provided prior to the company withdrawing its contracted service on 7 December 2018. When HES became unable to fulfil its contractual obligations, it became within the rights of health boards to withhold payments.
“Unless HES formally enters insolvency, it is the company that remains liable for unpaid wages. Since HES ceased trading, we have provided support and advice to ex-employees through our PACE initiative. This includes assistance in finding alternative employment and accessing redundancy payments. We will continue to offer support where we can.”