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Former Triumph workers speak out about 'terrible' and 'stinking' conditions in factory before closure

Video footage shows water coming in through the ceiling

Rats in the canteen, water pouring from the ceiling and up from drains, filthy toilets and blocked fire escapes.

That is what some of the newly-redundant workers at Triumph furniture factory in Merthyr Tydfil claim were the conditions in which they had to work in the days before the factory closed suddenly last week.

Video and photographic evidence shown to ITV Wales show floors in the factory under several inches of water, while electric lights remain on.

The workers who made the allegations say they told managers and health and safety representatives of the company but their concerns were ignored.

The furniture manufacturer fell into administration on October 8th after what it called "an unprecedented fall in sales in the course of the last 10 weeks."

The company suffered a "rapid and catastrophic collapse in orders" with more than 250 employees losing their jobs.

We've been working in terrible conditions for the last six months and we haven't said a thing about it, and this is how they treat us.

– Luke Bowen, former Triumph employee

The former workers at the factory who spoke to ITV Wales say videos dating from the last week of September show the conditions they were working in.

We've had rain water dripping off lights onto our heads, we've got videos of it.

It was terrible. It was stinking for starters, we've had rats in the toilets and in the canteen. As for the water, where the skylights had fallen down, the rain was just bellowing down on top of you, off the lights and everything.

I was working in wellies for the last month to keep myself dry.

– Luke Bowen
Luke Bowen worked at Triumph furniture

We complained to the managers, to the health and safety, to the owners.

They put everyone on the brushes [cleaning up the flood], instead of closing the factory.

– Luke Bowen

Another former Triumph worker, David Meredith, told ITV Wales: "We were working in water above our ankles."

Former Triumph workers gathered outside the factory on Monday 14th October to protest. Credit: ITV News

In a statement, Triumph Furniture said it had "employed a full-time health and safety manager to ensure compliance with relevant laws and swiftly deal with any incidents, including bringing in professional pest control services."

The company also said footage of flooded floors and leaking roofs was taken after October 1st when Merthyr Tydfil was affected by heavy rain.

The video footage of the flooding is not representative of the working environment at the Triumph factory.

It was filmed following the storm that hit Merthyr on Tuesday, 1st October - the remnants of ex-tropical storm Lorenzo. Local schools were also affected and roads were flooded due to the drains being unable to cope with this amount of rainfall.

Although the factory roof is constructed with 10-inch drains all around, they were unable to take this amount of water.

Consequently, production was stopped completely and did not continue until the flood was cleared.

– Statement from Begbies Traynor on behalf of the director of Triumph Furniture Limited

However, three of the videos seen by ITV Wales were taken on the morning of the 24th September by former Triumph worker Christopher Bell.

He says production continued on that day in the factory, after "several of them swept the water into the drains".

Photographs show fire doors inside the Triumph factory blocked by materials.

Photographs shown to ITV Wales include pictures blocked fire escapes inside the factory.

A 2018 Triumph corporate video depicts the company's factory in Merthyr Tydfil.

A 2018 Triumph corporate video shows the factory. Credit: Triumph
A 2018 Triumph corporate video shows the factory. Credit: Triumph

Photographs given to ITV Wales show filthy conditions in the factory's toilet facilities in the weeks running up to its closure.

In a response, the company said: “We have shared all of the information we have available in relation to these queries.