Mayor of investigative agency backed by £13.2m accused of poor treatment

City Region Mayor Steve Rotheram’s office is investigating after a company it provided millions of pounds to was accused of mistreating workers.

Surface Transforms is a manufacturer of carbon ceramic brakes based on the Image Business Park in Knowsley. It was supported by a £13.2 million loan from the Liverpool City Region Combined Authority in December 2023.

The loan, from the Combined Government’s Urban Development Fund, was provided to enable the company to invest in new production facilities and increase its production capacity.

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Trade union Unite has made a number of allegations about working conditions at Surface Transforms. The union claims that workers with less than two years’ employment were dismissed last month after refusing to agree to mandatory increases in working hours and being told to work public holidays at short notice.

Surface Transforms strongly denies the allegations, saying: “It treats all employees with fairness and respect.”

When presented with the allegations about Surface Transforms, a spokesperson for the Liverpool City Region Combined Authority said: “Urban Development Fund loan awards are managed by an externally managed body in accordance with ERDF funding requirements. This facility was offered on commercial terms to support the company’s expansion and create new employment opportunities for local people.

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