Unite vows to 'secure justice' for former Stones staff


Unite the Union has vowed to “secure pay justice” for workers at Stones Ashford, calling the firm's behaviour “contemptible” after it closed its doors last Friday (17 November).

In a statement issued today (24 November), Unite said that it had repeatedly sought guarantees from parent company Henry Stone Printers that its circa-111 staff would be paid on Tuesday 28 November, as well as gaining clarity over the firm’s future. Instead, according to Unite, Stones’ directors have “gone into hiding, leaving a loyal workforce in limbo not knowing whether they will be able to afford Christmas”.

Unite regional officer Phil Silkstone said: “Loyal workers at Stones Ashford face an uncertain Christmas thanks to the contemptable behaviour of the parent company Henry Stone Printers.

“Henry Stone Printers is openly boasting to customers that it is investing in its Banbury operation, so it can quite clearly pay workers at Stones Ashford the money they are owed."

He went on to say that Unite would use “every tool at its disposal” to ensure the workforce get their hard earned wages and the respect they deserve.

At time of writing, an administrator had yet to be appointed, although it is thought to be imminent, with workers fearing for whether they will be paid this month, and Henry Stone chief executive Richard Walsh had not responded to PrintWeek’s requests for comment.

It has also emerged that HMRC does not appear to be aware that workers were actually employed by the Kent web offset and sheetfed printing business, with some employees recently receiving HMRC rebates relating to the administration of their former employee Headley Brothers.

The general advice to concerned employees is as follows:

If an employee, for whatever reason, is unable to speak with their payroll section about their Income Tax or National Insurance, they should contact the HMRC Personal Taxes Helpline on 0300 200 3300 (Textphone 0300 200 3319 for deaf or hearing/speech impaired customers). 

The helpline is open 8am to 8pm Monday to Friday; 8am to 4pm on Saturday; and 9am to 5pm on Sunday. They should have their National Insurance number ready when they call. 

Stones Ashford closed its doors after the firm’s power was cut off by electricity supplier E.On. The management and investment team behind Henry Stone Printers in Banbury acquired the former Headley Brothers business in a pre-pack deal at the beginning of March. 

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