Engineering contractors May Gurney and Morrison Utility Services must pay hundreds of thousands of pounds to workers after losing a row over holiday pay.

An employment tribunal in Norwich has ruled that the companies owe almost 100 employees on an Anglia Water Services contract holiday pay back to 1998. The firms face an initial bill of £350,000, which is expected to rise with claims from other workers. Bryan Rye, regional secretary of construction union UCATT, said that the union would encourage employees in both companies to claim the full amount.

He said: “We will be encouraging all of these employees to pursue claims against May Gurney and Morrison, for the correct holiday pay at Christmas and for the backdated unlawful deductions as well. The eventual cost to these companies could run into many hundreds of thousands of pounds.”

The dispute arose after workers claimed they were not being paid their full entitlement of holiday pay, as the contractors had not taken into account regular bonuses.