A voice from the real world

Here is a message I have received. I have edited out a small section that I consider to be libellous. However, I think that the rest of the information should be made public.

“I am a former (as of yesterday) employee with Caterham F1.

“It is dismaying to see the amount of publicity surrounding the success of the crowdfunding on the same day that there entire workforce was made redundant while owed seven weeks salary. The cynic in me would suggest that the two are not unrelated and the good news has served as a convenient opportunity to bury the bad news. If this is the case then it seems to have worked as there hasn’t been a peep anywhere (unlike Marussia the week before who owed their employees “only” one week of salary).

“The employees have been made redundant from 1MRT (a company still owned by Mr Fernandes). This should be more widely known and Mr Fernandes should be encouraged to do the honourable thing and fund the owed salaries instead of hiding behind 1MRT’s orchestrated lack of funds.

“The present situation is the inevitable (and foreseeable) consequence of the manner in which Mr Fernandes sold Caterham F1. It isn’t good enough to claim that there were no other buyers. In that event the proper thing to do would have been to wind up the company gracefully while ensuring that employees and suppliers were fairly dealt with. Undeniably this would have been the more expensive course of action for Mr Fernandes.

“It is not right that Mr Fernandes should be allowed to profit from evading his responsibilities and suffer no adverse publicity.”

I should add that I am hearing that there are legal actions being prepared elsewhere for massive damages against the former owners of the team and, I have even heard the suggestion that the Administrator may also be the subject of law suits.

A sorry mess.

120 thoughts on “A voice from the real world

      1. It’s a good point though. It’s pretty brave of you to publish correspondence which obviously attacks the guy whose company you’re a non-exec of.

          1. Because Joe, knowing your standards, I presume you wouldn’t do this without offering right of reply to him, nor let a ‘no comment’ go unreported in the face of some pretty stiff implications.

            1. How can one comment on such a matter? It is self-evident what has happened and we can only wait to see what happens.

  1. Firstly, thoughts are with the writer. I wasn’t aware the entire staff were redundant. So who’s going to prepare the cars, etc, if the cars get to Abu Dhabi? It appears once Mr F bought QPR, Caterham were the throw away toy. Which was done, as cheaply as possible and with no thought for the staff. May not be illegal, but I’d now expect Mr F to do the right thing. Pony up the dough, Tony!

    1. As I’m aware, this relates to 1MRT staff, not those employed by Caterham (under administrator control) itself which is a separate company, and therefore the staff that race and prep the car remain employed, whereas those which design the car aren’t – I could be wrong.

      Maybe Joe could offer up some confirmation?

      1. ALL staff, regardless of consent, were switched from Caterham Sports contracts to 1MRT contracts. ALL staff were made redundant yesterday, even the ones who will be seen on track in Abu Dhabi.

        1. Nevermind teams boycotting the race. If I were a Caterham mechanic I’d be inclined to leave the car unstarted on the dummy grid and walk away.

          1. The point is that Caterham does not HAVE to be there. The team is allowed by the secret rules to miss three races each year, if necessary.

            1. I hope this means there is more going on in the background to justify the team going to AD. A possible purchaser wanting to see the team in action……! let’s hope so

        2. By switching all staff to be employed by 1MRT, it seems to me that the administrator has been looking after the workers. Since back-pay is now owed by 1MRT, which is where the entry is located, staff will have to be paid out if the team is revived (previously, Caterham Sports could have been shut down owing staff money without effecting 1MRT).

  2. That being the case, and I’m sure this communication is 100% genuine, who on earth do we suppose is going to prep the supposed cars for the ‘comeback’. This apparently complete jigsaw (if you believe the Administrators / CrowdBoob) is I think, still missing a lot of pieces, mainly faces and bodies.

    1. Well, usually, been given notice does not mean you immediately stop working, unless you put on gardening leave. Not turning up for work could possibly put the employees at a legal disadvantage, however I guess not being paid alters the situations somewhat

      Apart from that, I maybe the team is acutally glad to be able to go one last race?

  3. I left a comment somewhere that I hoped someone had the wisdom to place any crowdfunding proceeds into a trust, to keep the administrator’s mitts off it. In the event the team truly folds the proceeds should be used to pay staff for their pain.

    Have the race teams employees been fired as well? I can’t keep straight who is who in these multi-company structures.

  4. It truly is a sorry mess! I can’t but agree with the sentiment that the owners must assume their responsibilities towards suppliers and employees. I am a big supporter of the innovative efforts that are being used to find funding to go to Abu Dhabi and give the employees and suppliers a small chance of getting paid and for the team to continue past the current season with new owners. However, if they do not use this opportunity for these purposes many of us will feel utterly duped.

  5. I regret to say that this proves your opinion that greed drives the sport rather than passion. Money can come and go, honor is bestowed.

    1. That’s why I have a lot of respect for teams like McLaren, Williams and Sauber, who are true racers of the old style.

  6. I’d like to know, as I’m sure we all would, the EXACT company that the crowdfunding is intended to go to. Think I’ll have a quick glance at Companies House….

    1. Very wise advice if you wish to spend a tenner on Caterham.

      The fundamental questions about Caterham are who owns the engineering capacity or the intellectual property or the F1 licence. Caterham have a good business to sell, but the buyer has to collect all of it.

      1. Intellectual property seems rather a stretch? After Tony tossed it for one unit of currency?
        Engineering capacity, that’s another matter.

          1. I believe it is now owned by the accounting form that is providing the administrator to Caterham Sport Ltd. If this is the case, it is the from that has laid off the people.

  7. I suspected that the crowd-funding exercise was simply a ploy to allow a few wealthy individuals to enjoy extended play in F1 using money donated by people who assumed they were helping to ‘save’ a ‘team’.

    I don’t see the point of throwing money at a ‘name’ instead of fairly treating a large group of disaffected personnel who made it all happen – but maybe that’s what the ‘sport’ is all about.

    1. A good way to promote an accounting/insolvency firm, its crowdsourcing platform and sell a lot of old stock. Needless to say the administrator is racking up huge hours which will then translate to billable time, which will soak up all the remaining cash/assets of the left over shell. There is an inquiry going into the unscrupulous conduct of insolvency industry in Australia given the millions they sucked out of companies they were supposed to administer on behalf of creditors. Instead a number have gotten absurdly rich following their GFC plunders.

  8. A sorry situation that reminds me of Tony Fernandes’ tweet after the Team Lotus debacle in January 2011:

    “More to come on my feeling and the truth on this Lotus saga,”
    “The good always win. We won’t be faster than Renault. But we are only one year old. Takes time to build a tree (but) we are building the right tree.”

    Draw your own conclusions…

    I hope there isn’t further, reputation/brand damage to Caterham as a much loved British road car company that will put further jobs at risk.

    1. I think, from the three new teams, Tony Fernandes had the best business plan.

      He took a established but defunct brand, and built a team around it .I guess he hoped to buy the Lotus car company or have some sort of tie-in and use the F1 team as a marketing tool, costs being held in check by Mosley’s cost cap.

      He did a lot of things right, he hired people with F1 experience and set up a team in England. When he realised Norfolk wasn’t the right location, he moved the team closer to the “F1 valley”. When Gascoyne was not successful, he tried new people and actually found another car company to try to make his plans work.

      What he could do nothing about was Bahar turning up at Lotus and the cost cap beeing scrapped. Instead, cost were increasing and this year the team had to pay a small fortune to buy uncompetitive Renault engines.

      He probably never was or wanted to be a “racer”, but I think he had a solid plan and the best intentions, but that should not be an excuse for the things happening right now.

  9. Thoughts and sympathies are with the writer. What a sorry mess. This reminds me of that old familiar question’ ‘is F1 a business or a sport’? This is certainly NOT sport! In fact, one wonders whether it’s even business? (bad business perhaps?)

  10. After reading this message I thought it interesting that the usual argument in F1 is that the manufacturers will drop the sport whenever they decide it’s time.

    Now we have two small teams that did exactly that. At least, as far as I know, the manufacturers don’t do to their staff what the small teams are doing.

    Maybe there is no room for small fish in F1 after all.

  11. As a former employee also made redundant yesterday, I too believe that Fernandes is to blame for the failure of the Caterham F1 team. I do believe that Kolles and his merry men did a good job, apart from sackings with no pay, in keeping the team afloat but always had Tony’s previous unpaid bills popping up to cause problems. Tony should have given over the shares and we’d still be here.

    Everyone was made redundant, with hardly any publicity, and the race team in Abu Dhabi will just be consultants and not employees.

    The employees made the team, we may have been at the back but we had a passion to succeed. I for one despise the administrators, who really kept us all in the dark during the process, for making me have to go and find another job leaving a team I lived and breathed for 5 years. I do hope that Joe is right that the administrators get sued for the handling of this.

    If the team do come back next year I will be very happy but I will be very annoyed to not be part of it anymore.

    1. I was one of those cheering Caterham on but not anymore. At this point I do not even want to see them race as it is obvious they will be on the grid in Abdab for all the wrong reasons while the staff are left out in the cold.

      I recall the early videos with Tony and Mike with they first began Caterham. Although he said and did everything right (and perhaps even invested quite a bit too) he completely underestimated the requirements to build a successful F1 team and quickly lost interest. No more than a game of chess to him I guess. These founders of large corporations somehow feel strongly indemnified from any wrong doing despite the facts. It is the same story with other wealthy businessmen (e.g. Mallya and Kingfisher Air). This is so wrong.

      Gaz1, your strong commitment and dedication to the team is clearly evident and our thoughts and prayers are with you and your families. I am so glad you shared your story as did the writer. I encourage the rest of the staff share their stories and apply maximum pressure on the administration. While we feel helpless sitting round the world watching this sad story unfold, the internet is a wonderful tool in such situations and we will vote with our wallets if we have to, to make a difference. You are are intelligent and passionate bunch and it goes without saying that every one of you will be find employment sooner or later,

    2. Gaz, and everyone else at Caterham who worked to get Caterham up the grid, than you for your great effort. For me you guys are the unsung heroes of this affair. Good luck, and I really hope you guys do get paid and can find a job before christmas.

      Huge shame about the messy roundup of the team.

    3. Firstly, sorry to see you in this predicament and hopefully you can find suitable employment quickly. How did the team handle the issue of paychecks with the staff, were there hollow reassurances that pay was forthcoming? What was being communicated to staff as the weeks ticked by?

      1. Andrew, I think we knew we wouldn’t get paid. There was always reassurances that a ‘new’ buyer had expressed interest, seemed to happen every week, and that one of the terms of purchase would be to pay the staff for the missing weeks. Even now the PR speak continues. We didn’t get much information even the crowd funding was a surprise.

        1. Thanks for the response. I think the fact the team will race in Abu Dhabi is a good idea and an indication that ‘something’ has to be going on and there must be some kind of opportunity or strategy at work there. An administrator is not going to allow the team to race if there isn’t some associated benefit. Hopefully showcasing the team with it’s obvious tenacity helps find a buyer that can move it forward, utilize existing staff where possible and find a way to deal respectfully with the workforce. Once again, I hope things work out in your favour, your dedication would be an asset to any of the teams, best of luck.

  12. This was published yesterday (14th):

    Caterham have announced they plan to take part in next weekend’s season-ending 2014 Formula 1 Etihad Airways Abu Dhabi Grand Prix. The team have missed the last two rounds, in the United States and Brazil, due to ongoing financial issues.

    “We now head to Abu Dhabi ready to show what a hard-working and positive group of people this is and to hopefully secure a future for the team,” said interim team principal Finbarr O’Connell following a crowdfunding project designed to aid their participation.

    “During the past few days the interest of many potential buyers has increased massively and by racing in Abu Dhabi the team will be showcasing itself as a live and functioning team that deserves to continue into 2015 and beyond.”

    Caterham have yet to confirm who will be driving for them at Yas Marina. Kamui Kobayashi and Marcus Ericcson have formed their regular 2014 race line-up to date, but the latter – who will race for Sauber next year – announced earlier this week that he has severed all links with the team.

  13. Who will prepare the Caterhams for the grid? Which suppliers will provide parts for a busted racing team?

    Caterham can pull it off as long as the idea of a serious buyer persists. People will work for nothing if they believe in a long term objective.

  14. I hope the administrators aren’t going to deliberately fail to qualify, as Arrows did in France in 2002, or do a NASCAR-style “start and park”.

    When has an F1 team ever come out of administration? I know David Hunt bought Team Lotus in 1994, but they never raced again (regardless of what Fernandes thinks).

    Which other F1 team is owned by a billionaire that may lose interest at any given moment?

    At least Caterham are not getting a government bail out like Rover did in 2005 even though their “serious buyer” had walked away the week before.

    A dismal situation.

    1. I understand why you might think that Fernandes’ team did not deserve to be Team Lotus, but as he bought the original TL from David Hunt, it is a fact that Team Lotus raced in F1 in 2011.

  15. This whole business of an administrator “Going F1 Racing”, at other people’s expense reminds me of a an administrator who decided he wanted to be a West End theatrical producer after a well known TV branded show went belly up, even though there was not a cats chance in hell of it happening as the insolvent company he was administering did not own the rights. Having got appointed he lost no time in issuing press releases trumpeting his appointment and generally using the situation to big himself up. I kept asking “where are the rights?” but got no sensible answer. After a couple of years he quietly dumped the company and of course no one involved got a penny despite him having led them up he garden path.

    1. Tommy – I would love the conclusion to this story to be you telling us he also happened to look exactly like Zero Mostel!

      I too have had experience of an administrator thinking he knew how to run a business in an area he had no actual knowledge of …

  16. Surely the cash needs to be paid to the employees before it is used to get cars to the race ?

    Sent from my iPhone

    >

    1. The administrators have always maintained that they have no control over the employees, as they (the administrators) were only in charge of Caterham Sports and not 1MRT (where all of the staff had been transferred to). The announcement the team were going to Abu Dhabi, off the back of the crowdfunding campaign, was announced before the administrators took control of 1MRT. As soon as the administrators took control of the company, from the new board of directors appointed by Tony, the staff were made redundant and supposedly not entitled to any of the fees raised to get the car out to Abu Dhabi.

  17. I’m not being cold, but businesses are what keeps the economy growing, its always a gamble, but if your willing to invest and banks too, why should you place your personal wealth at risk. Be willing to loose your initial investment, but everyone who loans or invoices at a later date are doing so with the sole interest to make money. Its too rich a sport to be considered part time fun for owners.
    As employees, the team was doing you a favour by giving you a job, you shouldn’t be looking at it as someone who owes you a favour.
    Its been known for a long time that the situation was dire and any sensible person would of not gone into work if not paid, if they thought it was worth sticking around unpaid then that’s their choice.
    Maybe Fernandes made some money, but unlikely or he would not of quit. He paid your wages for five years and he wasn’t getting anything back, so he jumps ship, anyone would do the same, like a normal person working and not getting paid.
    The people who work at f1 teams do so expecting a wage, suppliers supply expecting to make money too, no one in f1 is doing it for free.
    Moan, but its life that the majority of us have had to deal with.

    1. Whist your theory is obviously correct in the cold way you didn’t mean it, I do think it’s a bit too simple to reduce what has happened as simply being fate. It seems crazy that people would work 6 or 7 weeks without being paid (presumably that’s a 1 month wage not been paid plus whatever weeks have been worked this month) and I believe it’s even crazier that a lack of honour allows the owner/s to just walk off without paying staff the bastards…

    2. “As employees, the team was doing you a favour by giving you a job……”

      No, as an employee you are entering into a mutual contract with the employer. They agree to pay a wage and you agree to produce a product or provide a service that, hopefully, generates a profit for the company. When the company uses your labor and then doesn’t pay you they have violated a basic social contract; they have stolen from their employees. Caterham hasn’t paid their (ex) employees for seven weeks! They should pay the wages.

    3. What a load of rubbish. According to the way you see it, even serfs had more rights than do modern day employees, as the lord of the manor owed them protection.

      The crux of the serious flaw in your so-called thinking is that employers are doing employees “a favor” by hiring them. It’s not a favor, it’s an exchange of a commitment to pay salary in return for the employee’s service.

      Why anybody with a soul would claim otherwise is beyond me. Or perhaps you’ve fallen for the BS about how there is some “invisible hand” that magically does things properly, such that those who clearly get screwed somehow deserve it. Regardless of which it is, go have a chat with yourself in the mirror.

        1. It was in response to a Mr nick who stated that:

          * Businessmen take risks with their money, so we therefore owe them preference over employees being paid;

          * Employees are hired only because their employers are doing them a favor;

          * Mr Fernandes was good enough to have paid the employees’ salaries for 5 years, presumably thus having earned the right to stop doing them the favor of paying their remaining salary;

          * Mr Fernandes’ willingness to accept their work without any concomitant responsibility to pay them for that work was only sensible, as “anyone would do the same”.

          We can disagree about whether what I wrote was “embittered”… but if you think was a “diatribe”, just imagine what I really think ;-0

          1. I thought it read like a diatribe (a forceful attack) as opposed to a rant (which implies anger). I felt also it was rather bitter. However, the key point was that I was not sure at whom it was directed. If it had been at me, i would have been less than impressed.

            1. Well, I expect Mr nick, er, um, I mean Mr greg was less than impressed too…

              p.s. A good question raised by the sense you got of bitterness… hmm… I think the situation is bitter, not me… but I suppose I could be wrong…

              p.p.s. I cannot imagine that I would speak to you that way… nor can I imagine having any reason to. The worst you are is grumpy… you’re not the mean-spirited sort… I doubt you have it in you (unless maybe if you’re really, really PO’d…)

        2. The “diatribe” is pretty clearly directed at “greg”. RShack tackles Greg’s comment that employers do employees “a favour”, by offering them a job. I agree with the basis of his comment and I’m glad he made it.

          I find Greg’s comments in this regard particularly galling given the discussion was kicked off when you posted the letter from the former employee of Caterham. Six weeks out from Christmas and a new batch of families unemployed and owed money as a result of “business” dealings and machinations of the disgustingly wealthy.

          I’d be less inclined to call it a diatribe though and more a reality check. We need more of it.

    4. You didn’t mention what the staff was being told to keep them working as paychecks were not materializing and the weeks ticked by. Do you think no one asked about their paycheck in 7 weeks?

      This nullifies your theory as it is likely the staff were placated with FALSE reassurances, not the staight up well intentioned exchange of money for services rendered you describe.

      1. Been there (not Caterham, but elsewhere), had the reassurances from the management that everything was fine & dandy, “the order book has never been so full! Everyone keep working like we know you can!” Only to have the rug pulled for half the staff of the company four weeks before Christmas. It’s a f**king AWFUL feeling.
        The only good thing was that it led me to my current employer and circumstances which have been excellent for the last ten years. (I was lucky enough to find good work within a few weeks of being laid off) I can only hope and pray that the Caterham staff are so lucky in the next few weeks.

        1. No doubt the management types had a softer landing than the majority of the workforce. Glad you made it through for the better, life works in strange ways, but at the time it must have been terrifying & stressful. A good reason to reflect & appreciate things as this Christmas rolls around.

    5. Citizen’s Advice Bureau sometimes advise to keep attending work during a dispute over unpaid wages at least for the notice period. The employer is liable for the money owed and interest (even on a 1000%APR short term loan to cover the amount) on top of what a tribunal could award for breach of contract. An employee choosing not to attend after not being paid on time would still be in breach of contract and would typically be awarded less at a tribunal.
      (disclaimer: I’m no lawyer; seek advice from CAB personally before acting on anything I’ve written)

  18. Caterham out of F1 with staff unpaid (law suits allegedly pending) and QPR in relegation Zone and threatened with Championship sanctions for breaking league rules if (when, most likely) they get relegated.

    He may be good at running an airline but he sucks at running sports teams…

  19. Don’t worry Bernie has all the answers to F1 problems in His Campaign Asia Pacific Interview.Rolex wearing 70 year olds are the solution

  20. What I find incredible is the amounts of money pledged by anyone at all (around £2m in total for arguments sake). Bearing in ‘Children in Need’ on the beeb this weekend which will raise, say, £32m for a very good cause – how can it be that crowd funding try to save a struggling F1 team is uppermost in anyone’s mind? I do feel sorry for employees or subbies owed any wages, obviously, but I’ve seen the same in my industry – remember Canary Wharf? It’s still standing, I note, but Olympia & York (the developer) went bust owing millions – many debtors were small companies. In the end this is what often happens these days and F1 is not immune. I’m sure Joe will remember other similar instances in F1 from the past….

  21. This is just the tip of the iceberg, the effects on the group are starting to take effect, CTI has effectively closed and staff laid off, the only part of the group that could ever make a profit Caterham Cars the maker of the Seven is now seeing the effects of poor management at Crayford, the engineering & purchasing staff at Crayford have been told to re-apply for their jobs, Happy Christmas won’t be a word any Caterham employees will be saying I fear.

  22. Regarding employees not being paid out of the fund raising, it because the only way to give the team or business a future is to put it out there as a going concern. Recoup some money by prize fund and show to potential buyers the foundations are in place.
    Unfortunately there is a chain where any money goes, a who is owed first, or an overall percentage given to all if agreed.
    Unfortunate that employees are last in the queue, but your wage isn’t classed as a written bill/invoice and it was the employees choice to continue working as the company had already breached contract by non payment.
    I do feel sad for the guys who are out of a job, but its the way things are.
    Legal advice is the only action and I wouldn’t personally waste my energy as its clear anything they gain wont pay off all the creditors and still leave the pot empty, if they do find a buyer you should get paid and most likely employment offers.
    Sucks I know, but don’t waste energy or money chasing something that’s not there, they are broke! But don’t go dissing them because there is a very faint light at the end of the tunnel. Very very faint.

  23. I’m no genius, not an accountant, but I have had a company that went bust and I have had a few years in the murkier small team world of motorsport on two and four wheels.

    Tell me if I’m being stupid but isn’t it the case that there’s LITERALLY no point in Caterham going to the last race?

    The money can’t be going into the bankrupt team can it? – as the VAT and HMRC / any other secured creditors would have that straight away wouldn’t they?

    A freak eight or nine car pile up might mean they get a point but won’t they need three to pass Marussia? – and I’m guessing Bernie only pays up when you arrive on the grid at Race 1 2015.

    So as I think I’ve said before, assuming somehow the crowdfunded money can be passed to some type of team who run the cars which I presume the Administrator might be loaning to them, all that the Caterham creditors stand to get is a reduction in the value of the assets as everything might get written off in a crash at a race for which there is no penalty if missed.

    If you sort of volunteered to work for Caterham trackside for this event or however it is they think they’re going to staff it… how nervous would you be at checkout in the Hotel on Monday morning? Will the bill be covered?

    1. I may be wrong but bankruptcy is for individuals rather than companies – administrators try to keep the company as a going concern. So there is a point continuing order to collect CVC’s payments. Also see Joe’s recently article about this.

    2. “A freak eight or nine car pile up might mean they get a point but won’t they need three to pass Marussia?”

      Two things to consider – the first is that double-points are available for all point scoring positions.

      The second is that they now have *much* less mileage on their engines than anyone else. In fact, according to the published lists of used-up components I’ve seen, both cars could run with totally fresh power trains. Further, these brand-new parts will only need to last *one* race, so the scope for “turning the wick up” is quite real. That’s got to be good for at least an extra couple-of-dozen HP over the base-line… and everyone else will be down on power with end-of-life parts.

      As such, I would suggest that there’s a very real chance that both cars could score points next weekend… in fact, this may have been part of someone’s plan.

      However, while the cars should be very racy, we’ll have to see what the pick’n’mix driver selection can do with them… I wonder what Rubens is up to?

    1. i believe there was talk at the start of the season that both Caterham and Murussia were both setting up and designing their cars specifically for Abu Double. So i would not be surprised to see a good result.

  24. I like Caterham F1 and Caterham. Fernandes, not so much. It’s a pity I can’t show my support at this time without such a layer of moral and financial complexity hanging over it. I wish I could donate directly to “the team”, not Team Caterham.

  25. For Administrator read ‘parasite’ Their sole focus is to liquidate as much cash as possible as quickly as possible. Finbar is certainly the Pied piper as far as this is concerned realising that there was a huge amount of fan based merchandise laying around he came up with this fraudulent crowd funding idea. How can it be anything else? ‘If you buy this we will go racing’ what a load of bull!

    This is confirmed by the fact that they didn’t reach the target and yet are still insisting it’s going to happen. Doh!

    I used to have respect for Tony Fernandes but basically he has decided he doesn’t want to play anymore. So he asked his’ mate’ (who always wanted his toy) if he wanted it. ‘Mate’ in a fit of excitement said yes then when he realised that it wasn’t as good as he thought decided he didn’t want it either. Ergo Tony still owns the toy and the responsibilities that go with it.

    Shame on him for basically making people believe everything was ok and then let it all go down the tubes by blaming his ‘mate’ for not stepping up to the plate.

  26. Never I would take certain airline flight if it is under responsibility of the same man who is able to digest so much human sacrifice. One must ask it self what happens if Tony does not want to play with planes anymore?

  27. Maybe the FIA should hold some money from all teams as insurance for something like this and the teams with the most points pay more ?

    1. Why would the teams with the most points and prize money pay more? What’s the incentive to win if it all gets taken away from you and you finish up with the same as the losers? F1 might as well hand out participant trophies then, and they might as well not have any first, second, third, etc places.

      Instead of standings and podiums, representatives from all teams will show up to the awards ceremonies after racing where they will be told “good job,” give each other non threatening hugs, and all sing kubaya while claiming any of what they do has anything to do with going green, cost savings, and road car technology.
      …..

      In racing, there are winners and losers. Caterham and all its representatives/employees lost. Pour a 40 on the grave and move on.

  28. This behaviour, even by F1 standards, appears to be pretty craven. It’s funny how many people are attacking the latest owners/administrators, but its looking increasingly likely that Tony Fernandes has a hell of a lot to answer for.

    My heart goes out to those who have been landed on the dole queue by this game, can only hope you guys find gainful employment from someone who deserves your talents.

  29. It’s not enough to be sad about this… what’s called for is evaluating whether the law permits this horrid behavior, and if it does, changing the law.

    Whoever the politicians might be who want this kind of thing to be legal, make sure they go on the public record as saying employees should get screwed in order to protect the interests of others.

  30. Life, business and sport is all about the survival of the fittest, and no better demonstrated than in the world of Formula One.

    it’s despicable the way the employees are being treated.

  31. The creditor reports I have read, indicate that the purpose of administration is to give the Company and assets more value for the benefit of creditors, than if it went straight into liquidation.

    As long as the administrators can demonstrate that they are or were doing that, I’m not sure how much purchase a lawsuit against them is going to have.

    If the insolvency practitioners have not advised the former employees of their options, I suggest they go to Citizens Advice.

  32. I’m surprised that there has been no threat (or plan) to seize the cars at the airport on behalf of the employees, (back pay) before they are shipped to the race? It only take one sympathetic judge to screw up plans which in my experience (auto parts production equipment) works to convince administrators to offer a settlement. In my case we waited until the vehicles stopped for fuel when the papers were served and we had the trailers unhitched from the independent hauling company tractors, (which we had no beef with). The amount of mobile signals back and forth could have microwaved many dinners until a bank draft was sent by taxi 9 hours later…

    1. I worked for a small airline many years ago and it wasn’t exactly unusual for the pilots to be given a briefcase full of cash to pay for the fuel for the return journey, otherwise – no pay, no fly.

      1. It’s not a good question when it has been stated here, and on other sites including statements from the administrators, that there are (now redundant) staff volunteering in the factory and volunteering on the race team as well.

      2. No one, I suspect.

        The crowd-funding exercise appears useful as a marketing campaign for those who have a vested interest in it.
        I’m sure a ‘sorry, we have bad news’ story will follow in the next few days.
        Although by commenting on a murky and secretive world I’m by definition ‘flying a kite’.

        The real bad news was, of course, Friday’s staff redundancy move.

    1. Perhaps it will be manpower supplied by a new enterprise called Bernie’s Rent-a-Wrench…

      They charge by the hour (time-and-a-half on Saturdays, double-time on Sundays)… plus equipment-use surcharges, staff livery and linen, safety supervision, administrative overhead, account-initiation charges, currency-conversion fees, convenience premium, and the never-trivial “miscellaneous expenses and fees”… and that’s before we get to the travel and lodging services…

      On the other hand, the manpower will be just temp’s, so none of them will get any benefits or job security… good business, that part… just think of how economical and efficient that makes it…

      It will be fun to time the pit stops.

  33. It’ll be a while before all the facts become clear, who said what and who did what but the initial debts that Caterham incurred where under the leadership of Tony Fernandes & his management team not the Kolles team or the administrators.
    I’d like to propose that a Crowdfund is set up to directly help the staff and the 5% commission plus credit card fees the Crowdfund company takes is put into that fund.

  34. The lesson here is the danger of working in an enterprise which is the plaything of one rich individual,
    A new toy arrives and the old one gets thrown to the back of the cupboard.
    The effort and passion you might have put into the project count for nothing.

    I speak from bitter personal experience and wish all the best to the ex staff of Caterham.

  35. Hey, it wasn’t a direct attack, it was cold, but reality is if you’ve not been paid and you continue to work, then its your gamble to carry on hoping that things are going to turn out ok, but we work to home and feed us not primarily for love.
    No job is guaranteed for life. If someone risks there own money to start a business and then risks that money to employ you to do a job, then obviously they are doing you a favor by giving employment.
    I find it the mentality in Britain that “employees are doing a favor by working for a employer”, be it cleaner, designer or fabricator, there is always more than one person fit for the job and they chose you. To go to the press and say I worked for free knowing the company was broke, debt collectors are at the door and the company stopped doing what they do (racing), why continue? The administrators job is to max the potential, they should of told everyone to go if there was no money to pay wages, but like everything in the UK, they bleed it dry and not say no to something free.
    Sorry to upset people, but take rover for example, 6000 employees, 10,000s in the supply chains all lost jobs, pensions etc and it was well known what happens when businesses go bust. Take the high st stores that went bust?
    Complaining I don’t blame them as I would too, but to say we worked 7 weeks without pay knowing the situation is their choice, unless the administrators said yes we will pay you. I assume they broke contracts with sponsors by not racing , broke contracts by not paying suppliers, so it was a sure thing they will do the same with employees.
    The administrator has done a lousy job from an employees point of view, but lets not forget the administrator isn’t doing all this for nothing and most likely a very nice percentage.
    Once bitten twice shy and I apologise again that I annoyed a few folks, but its how I see employment in this day and age which is sad, but a reality.

    1. The weeks worked at the start of October by all the staff were NOT worked with the knowledge that they would not be paid. Only when the administrators stopped people from returning to work did people then understand that they had been unknowingly volunteering their time for most of October.
      Yes staff have been in the factory since, but they have been volunteers knowing that they were not going to be paid for the time they were putting in to save the team.
      Regardless of now being able to apply for redundancy pay, I think ALL of the staff are justified in feeling aggrieved that they were not paid for the hours worked in October. The staff had always been paid, through the Fernandes years and the months with Kolles; it is only since the administrators have been on site that no one has been paid.

    2. Greg. The employer may well be risking their own money to employ someone but that doesn’t mean they’re doing that person a ‘favour’. They are pursuing a goal which they won’t achieve without the skills, experience and dedication of the employee. If it’s a success the employer will profit. Far, far more than the employee. If they fail they need only fulfil the minimum obligation to the employee (pay their notice period). Failure to do this, despite having the ability to do so, is wrong. How anyone can defend this is beyond me.

    3. In response to Greg…
      A single person, can only do so much work.
      Whether they be a mechanic, a carpenter, a lawyer, a retailer, an F1 team owner.
      There are only 24 hours in a day, if someone could work all 24, 7 days a week, every week, they would still be limited by how much they could produce, because they are only 1 person.

      When you want to produce more than you can as an individual, because you can see a greater market, more profits to be made, you can employ more labor. For some businesses this can be mechanical or robotic, with the attached costs and maintenance. For most businesses this labour is provided by employees.

      The reality is that for most businesses to grow beyond a single person operation, with the opportunity to increase revenue/profit, the business owner needs employees. A sensible employer will employee the best applicants for the positions he needs filled. This usually entails a merit based selection. It is generally in the best interests of the business and it’s owner to attract the best employees. To do this he/she offers contracts, salaries, conditions, etc.

      There are no favours involved.
      Without the employees the employer would see his/her production, sales, etc reduce to whatever the best figures a single person, the employer, could produce/sell etc. The employer relies upon the employees to give him a product, and in many cases, to market, transport, and sell it as well.

      In many cases the employer is employing people who possess skills and abilities that he himself lack. A good carpenter may not be a good salesman, so employs them, his time is better utilised manufacturing so he employs a driver to deliver for him, his leadership is lacking so he employs a floor manager to manage the other 5 carpenters he has employed to up his business from doing restorations out of a small shed to building furniture for a distributor chain. He can’t be on top of accounting entries and still working the floor where he is most efficient, so he now employs office staff.

      Without any of these employees he is back to a single man operation, limited by the man hours, and skill set that he alone, can manage. His sales opportunities and profits are limited by he himself as a resource. For some of us that’s fine. For others though, they will never afford a BMW unless they employ enough people to generate enough goods or services that generate enough profit that the employer can buy that nice car, or house, or clothes or lifestyle.

      Employers employ employees because they need to, or they believe they need to, or because if is in the best interests of the business. They don’t employ people as charity, because it creates a warm fuzzy feeling or because they feel socially obligated to. There are rare exceptions to this, and specific businesses that may target groups that struggle to find regular work, but in most cases, most definetely Caterhams case, there are no favours from employer to employee involved.

      I understand that your position is based on your opinion on how the world works today and the large number of people that are looking for work. I don’t subscribe to it, I thinks it’s completely unrealistic and right up there with “trickle down effect” as a lie told to make us feel grateful for making other people wealthy. It’s a Dickensian attitude and has no place in the 21st Century.

      I don’t think you are cold for expressing it. I think you either employ people and think they should be thankful, or have been an employee to a boss or managers that have driven that attitude into you. I don’t think it’s a healthy position for any self respecting human being. Favour is fickle, unreliable, it has no currency, no weight or measure. To use it or consider it used in an employer employee relationship is folly, and ultimately leads to an unhealthy relationship between the employer and the employed. It is simply not applicable especially when considered in the case of a business that employs as many as Caterham did.

    4. Greg – There is no favor, it is a contract, the employee benefits from a wage (plus other benefits of course) whilst the employer benefits from extra production or capacity.

      An employer doesn’t hire people to do them a favour, they do it to enable their business to function. Yes they may take a financial risk but that is there choice, as a reward for the risk the business keeps the profit, not the employees.

      For it to work it has to be an agreement which benefits both parties, not just one. The risk is with the business owner but so are the rewards, this is the choice a business owner makes instead of a less risky employment. A business owner who thinks they are doing employees a favour for the privilege of working for them is deluded and likely to fail in the modern world.

  36. I agree with the majority view here, that TF has treated the team, the employees and the suppliers very badly. He has either been incredibly naïve, unlikely, or he had just used Caterham to process funds for his own benefit, which could be the case. Either way, the whole of F1 is better off without such individuals in my personal opinion.
    And the sad fact is that BE and his Golden Goose has been the bright light attracting such types as TF, if the series had been properly organised and run by the FIA, if the finances and rewards had been sensible and transparent, then these sort of situations would not have developed.
    I feel very sorry for the employees & suppliers, not sorry for TF in any way, and think that Caterham should not appear again until properly sold, and relaunched with a decent payback to the employees and suppliers.
    As for the Administrators, well I’ve had experience of Receivers and Admin firms, and I’d not have sent them 1p, as such firms usually rip anything they can lay their hands on as ” expenses ” so any money that does turn up doesn’t go to the right people. Maybe Mr O’Connell and Co are different, but the payments for the ” services ” of such people, can only come from what is left of an enterprise, and I find it hard to believe that the Crowdfunding has been in anyway altruistic.

  37. Joe, Just read an article saying the majority of staff asked to be made redundant so they can put a claim in and have been told they will get reappointed if sold.
    I still stick to my views in a world of zero hour contracts.

    1. Incorrect. There was a very vocal minority asking to be made redundant, some people had already taken on alternative work under an emergency tax code and others were in the enviable position of being able to afford to wait to see if the team resurrected itself.
      There are now 200ish people trying to fill in redundancy forms where even something as simple “What is your employers address” is almost impossible to fill in as the administrators claim not to employ the staff under CSL and 1MRT is now supposedly being run from a warehouse somewhere in Malaysia.

      1. Omega is correct there seemed to be just a small vocal minority who wanted the redundancy. We tried to create lists of who wanted to remain until after Abu Dhabi and who wanted to be made redundant but we always struggled with our representatives. I do appreciate that some had no choice and some had already moved to other jobs but I don’t believe it’s right for Finbarr to say it was a majority.

    2. Well, I just read a story that’s not the least bit plausible either… but because it fits my arbitrary biases, I swallowed it hook, line and sinker.

      How’s that for evidence?

      p.s. If you’re ever over here, check out Rupert’s Fox News… you’ll absolutely love it…

  38. Not only have we not been paid for the last seven weeks but they also robbed us of our pension fund payments too. They took it from our salaries for the previous three months leading up to the closure but didn’t pay it to our pension provider!!!

    1. While all of this should be jail-worthy, stealing your pension contribution seems like a clear-cut case of theft…

      Over here, over the last decade the rich folks seem to have gotten a get-out-of-jail-free card… has the UK sunk to that level yet? Or might the crooks get locked up?

  39. Surely it’s not beyond the wit of F1 teams to indemnify team employees against these scenarios?

    What would it take for all teams to have to deposit 3 month’s salary into a central account, which can be drawn on at the discretion of trustees to hold employees harmless when one folds.

    The big teams would never “benefit” directly other than a) it being the right thing to do and b) it might just keep talent in F1 without being scared away by the insecurity if you’ve not yet made it to the established teams.

    But I guess the teams would actually have to care about someone other than team management, drivers or money.

  40. It is sobering to hear the stories from people directly involved at Caterham.

    Omega commenting on the difficulties in filling out a redundancy application, Jack Halford commenting on the failure of pension payments as well. Gaz1 with a view from the inside.

    Real people, real families, real lives. The F1 circus continues, most of us will tune into the Abu Dhabi showdown next weekend, celebrating one champion or the other, people such as Bernie and Tony will continue to have nothing but the finest laid out for them wherever they go.

    What is F1?
    Is it Bernie and his mega million race hosting fees, is it Lewis, Nico, and the other drivers fulfilling lifelong dreams, or is it the men and women working in the factories, designing components, driving the transporters, managing the office? All of these things surely. Drivers, team bosses and people such as Bernie can all afford to walk away, never lifting a finger again, living in feted luxury till their days are over. The overwhelming bulk of the people who build the cars, get them to the track and keep them running rarely have a safety net, yet alone the accessible whenever you want golden retirement fund.

    Thoughts to you all, to the men and women of Caterham and Marussia. Thank you for the racing you have provided us, the cars you have presented, and the spirit you imbue this sport with. Your efforts are just as vital as anyone else’s. Hoping you find suitable and gainful employment soon, and if not, that their are enough accessible support networks to keep you and your families afloat.

    1. I have to agree with you again Adam. It stinks, and as Martin P points out, there is no good reason why some sort of upfront security fund could not be held by the FIA to protect at least employees, from the tactics that have happened here…..oh, yes, I forgot, the FIA already has such a cache of gilt, it’s the F1 Entry Fee! This runs to £millions, so why not refund some of Caterham’s and Marussia’s direct to the employees?? I guess that would be too generous for the Blazers to do so, after all, one has to keep the people-in-charge well watered at fine restaurants and well fed too….Devil take the hindmost eh?

  41. Sadly, this is what the real world is like.

    When companies are about to hit the wall (or when the writing is simply on it) the directors (i.e. the ones with the most to lose) grab the jewels and the employees get sprayed with what hits the fan. Offload the liabilities and run.

    That’s why (in my opinion) the western world’s ideal of being in a safe job has become tosh. Successive governments have made employment so much more expensive and risky (especially in France) that directors take advice about limiting any kind of liability.

  42. I think the one thing that nobody has yet mentioned, is that, in comparison to the overall turnover and profitability of F1, the amount owed to the 230 staff for their 7 weeks work and severance pay, is one fraction of a pittance.

    Therefore Tony, or Bernie, or CVC, or any of that sorry, greedy shower making fortunes from this Sport/Business, could sort this all out with the flick of a Credit Card.

    And seeing that it is the scores of little people and suppliers who continue to keep the wheels of this megabucks enterprise turning, – they damn well should.

    If they don’t like it, then they should raise the fees for joining “The Pirhana Club” even higher, and see how long it lasts.

    For the whole of the last forty years there has been more than enough money in this industry to ensure that people are treated equitably, but it is the sheer greed of those at the top that have ensured this sort of mess keeps on happening.

    1. I think that this is just how sport is now. At the very top – the amount of money is mind-boggling however, move in the opposite direction – you get the other extreme. I’m not a football fan however, it’s a good example. In the Premiership, it’s not uncommon to find players at a club on £100K/£200K a week! However, a club is more than just it’s players. The safety stewards, for example, who do a valuable job on a Saturday (and have to undergo health & safety training) get barely the minimum wage per hour – for their efforts. I’m not for a moment suggesting that their remuneration should match the players but come on……..The difference is enough to make anybody’s eyes water. A vast amount of money concentrated among the very few – at the very top. I guess, in that respect, it’s not dissimilar to communism. It’s immoral but, so what, the cynics will say. It’s ‘free market’ capitalism in operation; that’s just how things are.

  43. I have just heard that the Government have refused to recognise that Catterham are in administration and will not pay any legal redundancy payments. It seems to me that the loyal workers have been shafted again.

  44. I really don’t think that is correct! I’ve had an email from the insolvency service confirming that they have received my paperwork and hope to deal with it within the next three to six weeks!

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