Workers to be paid off after Duns factory blaze

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WORKERS at an award-winning company have been issued with redundancy notices after a blaze which killed a 37-year-old man.

The 35 workers at Duns food factory, Wicken Fen, were this week issued with the redundancy notices.

Wicken Fen co-owner Paul Weeks, of Berwick, said the company had had “no choice” but to enter a 30-day consultation period on redundancy.

“We are still waiting for a decision from the insurance company,” said Mr Weeks.

“There has been extensive damage from fire and smoke and at the moment the premises are completely unusable.”

Mr Weeks said that even when the insurance company pays out it will take at least six months to get the premises on the Station Road Industrial Estate back to working order.

A lot of work will also have to be done to restore lost orders.

As a result of the number of workers affected by the redundancy notices, an open day is being held at the Volunteer Hall in Duns on Monday with a selection of agencies present who can help people being made redundant.

Organised by Partnership Action for Continuing Employment (PACE) - the Scottish Government’s national strategic partnership for responding to redundancy - the open day will be held from 2.30 until 4pm.

Agencies present will include the Citizens Advice Bureau (CAB) who will be able to advise on claiming benefits.

Although the open day is being run in response to Wicken Fen’s redundancy consultation, anyone who has been made redundant is welcome to come along.

Investigations are still being carried out on the source of the fire which killed worker Brian Newton, from Greenlaw, on Sunday, June 19.

Fire crews were called to the premises at around 11.15pm and discovered his body at the scene. The factory was closed at the time of the blaze and Mr Newton’s presence was unexplained.

Around 60 firefighters battled the fire throughout the night at the single storey food processing factory.