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230 jobs lost as O'Donnell fails

Workers locked out when they turn up for work at Newcastle-based civil engineering firm

OVER 200 workers have lost their jobs after Newcastle-based civil engineering outfit O'Donnell Bros plunged into administration this week.

Operatives arrived at work on Monday morning to find the gates locked. Now administrator DTE Leonard Curtis is writing to 229 of the company's 267 employees to officially inform them that they are out of work.

Local officials from general union GMB are considering legal action against the firm on the grounds of a lack of consultation with its staff.

Senior organiser Tom Ross said: 'O'Donnell are obliged to inform them about anything that will affect them and by goodness does this affect them.'

Mr Ross added that he fears the firm's remaining 38 staff are likely to be dumped imminently.

GMB Teesside representative Jackie Woodall warned: 'We are investigating the situation and feel that litigation is a very strong possibility at this stage.'

O'Donnell Bros carried out utilities contracts and a range of civil engineering work including installing town centre CCTV systems and street lighting.

It was one of the main contractors for regional electrical suppliers Northern Electric Distribution, a contract which is believed to have contributed to its downfall.

Ms Woodall said: 'If another company came in to pick up this contract and hired these workers we expect severe TUPE complications.'

All calls to the company's head office are currently being diverted to an answerphone where two mobile numbers are listed, neither of which is currently in use.

Workers were asked to bring their equipment in for an audit last Friday but were not told the firm was in trouble.Most staff then received letters on Saturday saying the company had been experiencing difficult trading conditions for some time and had gone into administration.

The closure signals the end of a turbulent period for the contractor.Earlier this year, O'Donnell Bros hit the headlines when it lost a tribunal claim for unfair dismissal by its former senior project manager Christopher O'Donnell, who is managing director John O'Donnell's nephew.