Brunel Rooms' bosses pay workers out of own pockets after threats to quit jobs

Swindon Advertiser: Some staff at the Brunel Rooms have quit because of not being paid. Pictured are workers Natasha Eagles, Sean Baxter and Gemma Le Gallez Buy this photo » Some staff at the Brunel Rooms have quit because of not being paid. Pictured are workers Natasha Eagles, Sean Baxter and Gemma Le Gallez

STAFF at the Brunel Rooms have walked out in a dispute over wages after the club’s managers said there was no funds to pay them.

People who have been working at the club since it opened last year say they are frustrated with the company. Some have quit and are seeking legal advice.

Management have since decided to pay employees out of their own pockets to avoid any further problems.

They say problems with cash which was taken from the club recently and a poor trading weekend left them without the ability to pay staff in full.

Shaun Baxter, 20, a former bar supervisor, had been working there since August but left this week.

“The issue with pay has been going on for a couple of months now,” he said.

“People haven’t been paid in full or have been paid late.

“Some staff have received half wages but that is not going to go very far.

“I do not want to be a part of this any more because it is quite embarrassing.”

Bar supervisor Gemma Le Gallez, 20, has worked at the Brunel Rooms since the start, and considered quitting.

“They have never paid us on time,” she said. “I told them I refused to work until I get my money. If they want people to come into work they have got to pay them.

“Some people have had to move back to their families because they can’t afford to live here.

“One member of staff has not eaten since Sunday because she has not got any money to buy food.

“We have been given cheques for the right amount but whether they clear we have to wait and see.

“We got to the point where if they did not get this sorted I would have had enough.”

Jason Ranford, the general manager of the Brunel Rooms, said management were working hard to turn around their fortunes after cash was reported missing from the club on New Year’s Eve.

Former licensee Nathan Hatter was arrested and bailed on suspicion of theft.

“There is money missing from the club since the incident during the New Year, and because of that the staff were only paid half their wages,” he said.

“All staff have now been paid. We have had to put in some personal funds, and the three of us, myself, Helene and Paula (directors), have had to take it out of our own pockets.

“Some of the staff have been in already to pick it up.

“They were made aware by social media yesterday afternoon, and five or six have collected their money.

“We are not proud of the situation, but if the events of New Year’s Eve had not happened we would not be in this position.

“Helene and Paula have put thousands of pounds into this business, and it has got to the stage where we have contemplated closing.

“I can understand where the frustration is coming from, but we have the backing of 80 per cent of our staff.

“Nothing is going to change with the club. We will still be open in February, and it will still be the Brunel Rooms. We are confident we will get through the licence review.

“A couple of people have quit and we wish that was not the case.

“We are putting a huge effort into this, having regular meetings with the police and have appointed a new designated premises supervisor.”

NIGHTSPOT'S TROUBLED PAST

  • August 2013: The opening night of the re-launched Brunel Rooms attracted 1,800 clubbers, reaching capacity.
  • August 2013: The club announced that BBC Radio One DJ Charlie Sloth would be their resident DJ, to front its Kiss nights on Thursdays.
  • August 2013: John Norman, an original founder of the Brunel Rooms and its revolving bar met the new owners.
  • October 2013: Jason Ranford, of the Brunel Rooms at the time, was convicted on two counts of fraud for taking deposits worth more than £1,000 for rental properties, with the intention of depriving his victims of their money.
  • October 2013: Ranford was jailed for five months after committing fraud while breaching a suspended sentence for common assault.
  • October 2013: Ranford was disassociated from the Brunel Rooms following his sentence.
  • January 2014: Two people,  Nathan Hatter, and a 23-year-old woman, were arrested as they attempted to board a flight at Gatwick following the alleged theft of an unknown amount of money from the Brunel Rooms.
  • January 2014: The club’s licence due to be reviewed in February after Wiltshire Police raised concerns about safety at the club.
  • January 2014: Co-owner Helene Simpkins defended the decision to welcome Jason Ranford back into the business.

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