KRL manager remains fearful for staff’s future

Kintyre Recycling business manager, Amanda Thorburn.
KRL business manager Amanda Thorburn.

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Kintyre Recycling Limited’s (KRL) business manager says she remains  concerned for staff’s jobs after a lack of support from Argyll and Bute Council.

Amanda Thorburn says she can ‘no longer remain quiet’ on the issues that the social enterprise company is facing since the council’s ‘disgraceful’ decision in February to take recycling services in Kintyre in-house from October.

But a council spokesperson told the Courier it ‘wants to do all it can to progress the situation and support KRL as an organisation’.

Ms Thorburn, who said she was speaking on her own behalf and not that of KRL’s board of directors, said that she had not received support and the human resources advice she was promised following the decision.

She added that despite councillors’ intentions to hold negotiations on TUPE protection – the possibility of maintaining continuity of employment for KRL’s staff, many of whom have barriers to work and are ‘very vulnerable’ – nothing had been put in place.

‘There is still nothing in writing from the council to even acknowledge any of this and the majority of meetings have been cancelled,’ Ms Thorburn said. ‘We have been working so hard to try and keep some of our activities going so we can continue after October.

‘However, if the situation with the council continues the way it is going, then the great fear is that we will lose everything and that would break my heart.’

An Argyll and Bute Council spokesperson said: ‘We maintain regular contact with the company about points to address and updates for sharing.

‘TUPE is a complex part of employment legislation. We wish to work with KRL to ensure we have received all the necessary information, and so that it can confirm the situation to its employees as soon as possible.

‘Our focus remains on doing as much as reasonably possible to support KRL, and on ensuring a sustainable recycling service for Kintyre.’

KRL, one of the first recycling groups in Scotland to launch plastic bottle recycling, has had a recycling and kerbside collection contract with the council since 2001.

The company initially carried out recycling in just the two main housing estates in Campbeltown but this grew over the years to include the whole of Kintyre, including Tarbert.

This expansion allowed KRL to take on employees, including those with barriers to work, some of whom have been with the company for 18 years.

Since 2007, KRL has employed 24 people, bringing £400,000 to the Kintyre economy and recycling about 700 tonnes a year.

Now, as well as running a furniture re-use shop and a bike project, KRL is developing land at Bengullion Road to site containers and a welfare unit and plans to set up a wood project using staves from local whisky barrels.

The company is awaiting delivery of five e-bikes, with another four mountain e-bikes due to arrive in August, and plans to hire these out over the summer.

Ms Thorburn, who has been involved with the social enterprise since 1999 when it was Campbeltown Waste Watchers, added: ‘There has been a lot of changes over the years and I have found myself dealing with all sorts of activities that I did not expect to, which has been challenging but rewarding.

‘The people of Campbeltown have been so supportive over the past 20 years and I would like to thank them all for their kind words recently.

‘We have accepted the recycling will be taken in-house but we may require their support again for us to continue in some form and to be able to provide the jobs and opportunities we have done over the past 20 years.’

She added: ‘To all the staff, past and present: thank you so much for all you have put up with and all your hard work.

‘Whatever happens, you have played a part in a social enterprise that served the local community for over 20 years.

‘I am so proud of everyone and the team ethic of supporting one another. We showed that no one with barriers to work should be written off and told they cannot do this sort of work.’