Lough Swilly redundancy concerns
The Lough Swilly bus company was formally wound up on 18 April with the loss of 80 jobs, approximately 20 of which were in Northern Ireland with the remainder in Donegal. The winding up followed the company’s appointment of a liquidator the previous week.
In March, HM Revenue and Customs had petitioned the High Court for the winding up of the company, formally known as the Londonderry and Lough Swilly Railway Company, due to substantial debts. Established in 1852, the company had been the oldest surviving statutory railway company from the Victorian era. Abandonment of the rail service commenced early in the 20th Century with the company moving over exclusively to road vehicle operation in 1953.
Reacting to the closure announcement, trade union Unite has been working to ensure its 80 workers receive redundancy payments. Unite Regional Officer, Philip Oakes, said, ‘The announcement that the Lough Swilly bus company is to be wound up comes as a shock to workers who were told that the company would continue to operate for another month. The move will result in 80 drivers and mechanics losing their jobs. Unite solicitors have met with the liquidators and attended the creditors’ meetings on behalf of the employees. Given reports that the company has substantial debts, there are concerns for employee redundancy payments and it is likely that we will have to provide a submission to the Department for Works and Pensions to secure entitlements.’
Philip was also concerned over the impact on school and local bus services, ‘The Lough Swilly Bus Company has played a vital role in the local economy, including the provision of local school runs under contract to the Department of Education. We are hopeful that another operator might be found to take on these and other commercial runs so that at least some of the jobs can be saved and a vital community service maintained. We are calling on political representatives to take action to encourage other operators to step in and to safeguard jobs and secure the vital public service performed by this company in the region.’