DELIVERY drivers who have lost their jobs at a tobacco supply firm said they have been left ‘shell-shocked’ by their sudden departure.
An employee who had worked at Palmer & Harvey for 13 years told The News he had found out he was being let go on Facebook, while another made the discovery after turning on the 6pm news.
A total of 2,500 people have lost their jobs nationally – including 229 in Fareham – after the company went into administration.
The announcement was made on Tuesday evening, with many staff still unaware of the company’s fate.
Daniel Wright, 46, has been employed by P&H for four years.
He said: ‘From the people I’ve spoken to everyone is still in shock.
‘I found out when I was watching the news. I was completely lost for words.
‘People were turning up in lorries on Wednesday morning and being told to go back to the depot.’
P&H employs 266 people at two sites in Fareham, in Barnes Wallis Road and Crompton Way in Segensworth.
Yesterday the front doors of the Barnes Wallis Road site were locked, and a member of management told The News there would be no further comment at this time.
Another delivery driver, who worked for P&H for 13 years but asked not to be named, said staff had been reassured six weeks ago that the company would be sold.
He said: ‘I was shell-shocked when I found out. My wife was crying.
‘I found out through Facebook and phoned the office.
‘We’ve been out doing deliveries and all the lorries are rammed every day. Something has not been right with management.’
Leading trade union Usdaw said it would be seeking an urgent meeting with adminstrators to find out what the news would mean for its members.
The union’s national officer Mark Todd said: ‘Usdaw is deeply concerned at the devastating news that Palmer & Harvey has gone into administration and that a significant number of redundancies have already been announced.
‘The announcement is a massive shock to our members and is an extremely distressing situation for all concerned, especially in the run up to Christmas.
‘We will of course be doing everything possible to protect our members’ interests going forward.’
Shoppers in Fareham’s town centre also spoke of their disappointment at the news.
Audrey Sitch said: ‘I feel sorry for anyone who loses their job at this time of year.
‘It’s just a shame to see another company gone from the area.’
And Rosemary Gordon, who visited from Waterlooville, said: ‘It’s horrible but it’s sadly a fact of life.
‘It’s unfortunately it’s happened just before Christmas.’