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Victoria Carpets workers fear for jobs
Buy this photo » ‘Genuine worry’: From left, Victoria workers Andy Lloyd, Tony McKenzie and Robin Warrington with the petition. Buy this photo 371263l at kidderminstershuttle.co.uk/pictures or by calling 01562 633333.
WORKERS at Kidderminster’s Victoria Carpets who fear for their jobs have petitioned a shareholder they believe could swing the vote in the battle for control at the firm.
Shareholders New Fortress Finance have called an emergency meeting and want to reappoint Alexander Anton and Geoff Wilding to the board of directors, along with Andrew Harrison.
The petition, signed by 200 Kidderminster workers, asks Alexander’s uncle Stewart Anton, who owns 13.1 per cent of the company’s shares, to vote in favour of the current board.
He sided with Alexander’s consortium, which was voted on to the board d in another boardroom battle in March. Alexander says he has the same support this time.
Stewart was “unavailable for comment” when The Shuttle tried to contact him.
Victoria staff are worried Alexander would put forward an incentive scheme which, to achieve its target, could see the company broken up. It is feared that could mean job losses at the firm’s Worcester Road factory.
Alexander, who has described the scheme as “dead”, denied his proposed strategy would involve job loses.
Barbara Warrington, who has worked at the company for 48 years, said: “I would rather keep things the way they are now.
“At least we know who is in charge.”
Tony McKenzie, a supervisor who has worked there for 34 years, said: “It is the fear of the unknown. [The uncertainty] demoralises people. It is difficult to motivate people who don’t know if they will have a job in 12 months’ time.
“Until the cards are on the table we just don’t know. Maybe they will take over and invest some money or leave it as it is but at least we know who we have now.”
Electrician Robin Warrington, who has spent 34 years at Victoria, added:“There is a genuine worry among workers.”
All three members of staff signed the petition and Mr McKenzie said when he heard of the incentive scheme it “set alarm bells ringing”.
Alexander Anton said: “At no time has the strategy involved job losses.
“We wish to correct this falsehood and regret any distress or anxiety this may have caused employees and their families.”
Shareholders are due to vote at the meeting in Birmingham on Wednesday, October 3.
Group managing director Alan Bullock has said he would resign if the current board lost.
Meanwhile, Roger Hoyle and David Garman were voted off Victoria’s board at last week’s annual meeting at the firm’s headquarters, along with Mr Bullock and Barry Pointer.
Mr Bullock will remain as group managing director and Mr Pointer will stay as Australia managing director.
Mr Garman was immediately reappointed to the board as a non-executive director by chairman Katherinne Innes Ker.