THE boss of a West Lothian computer firm has been accused of an “unspeakable act of cowardice” after jetting back to California without facing staff to tell them they would not be paid before Christmas.
Staff at Livingston-based optical manufacturer Kaiam have been instructed to phone a helpline on Christmas Eve to find out if they will receive their December wages after being sent home from their workplace on Thursday and told not to return.
Boss Bardia Pezeshki visited workers the day before the announcement, but made no mention of pay being delayed.
But it has now emerged the CEO flew back to the United States the day after visiting staff, leaving local managers to pass on the heartbreaking news to furious employees.
Some workers claimed cleaning staff even knew about the delayed pay before they did after a contract with their external company was cancelled.
The usual pay date is December 27th but this had been brought forward to the 21st because of Christmas.
In a video posted on social media, SNP MP for Livingston, Hannah Bardell, told followers Mr Pezeshki: “said nothing, then in an unspeakable act of cowardice flew home to the US as staff were being told they wouldn’t paid before Xmas.”
Employees gathered outside the offices in the Skylaw Business Park on Friday.
One, who asked not be identified, told the Evening News: “Some of us who weren’t in on the Thursday, we didn’t even get a phone call, we only found out from other people who work there, it was just word of mouth. There were a few rumours the company was in trouble but nothing that severe, there were always rumours going about but we never expected this.”
“There’s a real uncertainty now before Christmas, I don’t think it would be quite as bad if we knew we were going to get paid, but there’s no guarantee of that.”
Another added: “There’s a lot of couples in that office, a lot of couples who rely on the one wage, people who have kids, mortgages, bills to pay; to be told we might not get paid in December now, there is a bit of panic.”
“The CEO has left the manager in there to tell us what is happening while he is going back to the US, how can we get angry at them? They are just passing on the message. It isn’t their fault, but what do you say to them?”.
A senior staff member at Kaiam’s offices in the United States said he was “not familiar” with the situation in the UK.
The private company, headquartered in Newark, California, manufactures parts used for high speed data transfer between multiple servers at data centres.
In 2014, it announced it had been given a £850,000 Scottish Enterprise grant to expand the Livingston site by moving production facilities there from China.
The Evening News can reveal a document filed at Companies House states ‘Kaiam Europe Limited’ on December 11 would be compulsorily struck off the register of companies and dissolved.
But the next day, another document at Companies House showed compulsory strike off action had been discontinued. The firm’s accounts are now more than two months overdue.
West Lothian Council leader Lawrence Fitzpatrick said: “We are seeking clarification from the company with regards to what their immediate plans are for the plant in Livingston.
“However there is a lack of clear information and there are a number of unanswered questions.
“Clearly the situation is deeply concerning for Kaiam employees and their families. Our thoughts are with them at this difficult time.
“We understand that staff have not been paid, as yet, this month. That is obviously devastating news, especially so at this time of year.”
“We’re working with our partners including Scottish Enterprise and will continue to closely monitor the situation.”
The council has since established a helpline for Kaiam staff looking for financial and/or employment advice.
Angela Constance MSP added: “This would be bad enough at any time of year let alone the holiday season, and it is disgraceful that workers are not being paid their due this Christmas.”
“Today I have written to the Cabinet Secretary for Fair Work asking what the Scottish Government can do to pursue this company who are breaching workers’ rights and to see what assistance can be given to hard pressed families at this time.
A spokesperson for Kaiam did not respond when approached for comment.