WORKERS made redundant when Malcolm Engineering Company (MEC) closed earlier this week are facing fresh financial problems after it emerged the firm has defaulted on its payments into their pension funds.

About 60 people have lost their jobs since the Darlington company called in administrators early last month after falling into financial difficulties.

The company stopped trading last Friday after the hunt for a buyer proved "unachievable", with only about six people still employed as the site is wound up.

But yesterday, former employees at the company, which has traded in the town for more than 40 years, revealed they were still owed money by MEC after discovering that a pension payment had not been made.

The company defaulted on payments for July and August, but only July is outstanding.

And now, redundant workers - several of whom have not found new jobs - said the news was causing them new financial problems, with letters being sent demanding the money is paid immediately. Unions said they were aware of the problem in pension payments, and said they were hoping for some form of resolution from the creditors' meeting scheduled for early next month.

One worker, who asked not to be named, said: "We've found out that our pension contributions hadn't been paid by the company for July and August, which was a big kick in the teeth for us all. The August one has been sorted out now, but the July one is still outstanding, which is causing real concern for us.

"Things just keep getting worse. First we lose our jobs and our livelihoods, and then we find out this about our pensions.

"We're all getting letters saying this money hasn't been paid, but it's not our fault - I've had to take a whole day off my new job to sort this out, but other lads I know are getting really worried about the stuff they're being sent.

"We've paid our part of it, but are owed money by the company - they hadn't gone into administration then, so obviously they were in trouble long before they let on to us."

Another worker said: "This is a real worry. I haven't got another job yet and I am being told I have to pay this money, but I haven't got it and it's not my fault. I only hope this creditors' meeting can sort something out, as it's getting to be a really bad situation."

No one at the MEC plant, on Banks Road, was available for comment last night.