Christmas shock as 72 jobs go

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All 72 staff at a training provider have lost their jobs just two weeks before Christmas, union bosses have said.

Workers at the Via Partership are to have their employment terminated with immediate effect, according to UNISON.

The Leyland-based organisation operates across Lancashire and provides advice and guidance for young people and adults, and business support for workforce development.

Shocked staff were told on Thursday night that their employment will be ended immediately.

The Via Partnership is owned by Lancashire County Council, Blackpool Council and Blackburn with Darwen Borough Council.

UNISON, the union that represents staff at Via, has called on the councils to intervene.

Pat Grant, UNISON regional organiser, said: “Staff were truly shocked and devastated by the news they heard last night.

“To be told that they will immediately lose their jobs without warning or consultation, was terrible.

“Staff were visibly shaken by the announcement and are worried about the impact on their service users – who have been left high and dry.

“We will work to support our members through this very difficult time and challenge their employer’s actions.

“Via boasts of looking after its own employees, but the way their staff were treated last night was particularly callous.

“The staff are experienced and highly-skilled and they perform valuable work.

“Via aims to counter the social problems caused by worklessness, and there is a desperate need for this type of service to be available in Lancashire.

“UNISON is calling on the three councils that own Via to intervene to save the jobs and the service.”

Jennifer Mein, Leader of Lancashire County Council said: “It is very sad that the Via Partnership has been placed into administration.

“Lancashire County Council, along with other shareholders in Via, Blackburn with Darwen Council and Blackpool Borough Council, has worked hard to improve the financial viability of the company.

“However, with regret, the point has now been reached where Via is no longer a going concern and therefore not in a position to cover its financial responsibilities.

“We cannot continue to fund something that is not covering its costs and losing money, especially at a time when we are having to make such huge budget savings and major decisions regarding the future of frontline services.

“Our thoughts go out to the staff at this difficult time and we have now appointed Deloitte as administrators.

“We, and our fellow shareholders, will work with staff, business customers and service users to manage this situation.”

UNISON bosses had initially told the Lancashire Evening Post that 170 jobs had been lost, however this has now been clarified as 72.