Workers made redundant from a Lancashire exhaust firm were never told an agreement to give them three times their legal redundancy pay was no longer valid, a court has heard.
Fifty-five former employees of Bosal UK Ltd, based in Bamber Bridge, have launched a civil claim against the company.
They say when they were made redundant in 2007 the company went back on an agreement to pay them three times their wages for each year worked at the company.
But the company says that agreement expired in 2004 and was no longer valid when they lost their jobs three years later.
A court at Manchester’s Civil Justice Centre heard evidence from Pamela Hill, an HR manager at Bosal.
Paul Gilroy QC, for the claimants, quizzed her on meetings held between union representatives and management on November 13 and 20, 2007.
He put it to Miss Hill that in those meetings the company “chose to speak 100% about affordability” and never once mentioned that the redundancy agreement had expired in 2004.
“You never said we are not doing it because you have not got a contract which supports what you are saying,” he told her.
“You were not interested, because you were simply not going to pay, that is correct isn’t it?”
Miss Hill replied: “The company was not able to pay what the expectation of the union or the members thought they were entitled to.
“It was not that we were trying to ignore any contractual entitlement.”
Mr Gilroy said again: “The company was never going to say anything other than we have not got the cash. You were simply going to say to them we are not paying because we have not got the cash and that’s it.”
Miss Hill replied: “I think I would have to agree that was one of the fundamental reasons that we were unable to pay in the expectations of the union, nothing to do with the legality of any agreement.”
The court heard that employees were finally told by the company that the agreement had expired when they filed grievances about the payouts in 2008.
Mohinder Sethi, for the respondents, asked Miss Hill whether she was aware of whether any of 16 employees made redundant in 2004 argued they were entitled to three times their statutory redundancy pay. He also asked whether she was aware the union had informed members in 2004 of their three times entitlement.
She said she was not aware of either. Summing up in the case is due to take place today.