Agrexco staff aggrieved over redundancies


Former employees of the London office of the collapsed Israeli agricultural exports company, Agrexco, have complained that they have received no redundancy pay since losing their jobs last October.

Ofer Yarkony, 51, the former sales manager for flowers, who joined Agrexco in London in 1988, said: "They have thrown us to the dogs."

The Insolvency Service said that one ex-employee had already resorted to an employment tribunal and advised others to follow suit.

Agrexco began liquidation proceedings in Israel last summer with estimated debts of more than £90 million. The company, in which the Israeli government held a 30 per cent stake, was then sold to the owner of an Israeli flower business.

Vered Rutter, 59, a former sales co-ordinator who had been working for seven years for Agrexco, said that around 30 staff in London had been laid off at the end of October.

"I have not had a salary now for two and a half months. I have been looking for a job but can't find any," she said.

She said: "I have to put my house on the market and move to a cheaper one as I can't pay the mortgage any longer, all because Agrexco is not paying me."

Mrs Rutter, who had also worked for Agrexco at a previous time before raising a family, said that the firm had given staff forms to make a claim to the Insolvency Service's redundancy payments office.

But the Insolvency Service explained that it could not make redundancy payments directly to former Agrexco employees because the company's insolvency procedures were taking place in Israel, not the UK.

Instead, they needed to apply to a tribunal. "One employee has received a tribunal judgment and the redundancy payments unit will be paying them," the IS spokesman said.

Six workers have remained to work with Agrexco's new operation in London, whose branch manager, Dudi Vaknine, said: "Agrexco has recently been bought by a private Israeli businessman, Gideon Bickel, and so is continuing to trade, but under the changed name of Agrexco Carmel."

He put the number who had lost their jobs at "more than 20" but would not discuss the question of redundancy payments because "it's a legal issue". Former staff , he added,"have the right to get money from national insurance and they will get money".

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