Around 600 jobs at risk as administrators PKF and KPMG vye to step in

Scottish civil engineering contractor WJ Harte is on the verge of appointing administrators - putting around 600 jobs at risk.

Sources close to the troubled firm told Building PKF and KPMG were vying to manage the administration.

WJ Harte staff were turned away from the contractor’s headquarters in Bothwell on Monday, prompting several calls to construction union Ucatt by employees fearful for their jobs.

One employee, who works in the firm’s Glasgow office, told Building workers at his office were packing up their desks and claimed “nobody had been [officially] informed of anything”.

According to its last set of accounts filed at Companies Hourse, WJ Harte turned over £43m and made a pre-tax profit of £159,000 in the year to 31 May 2010.

The Glasgow employee added: “It’s felt like the firm has been hanging on for the last six months. People were doing double and treble work to cut costs and keep work going.”

WJ Harte is a subsidiary of the Harte Group of companies. It is not known what is happening to the group’s other subsidiaries – which include RJT Pennant and RJT Excavations.

Labour councillor Maureen Devlin, who represents Bothwell, said: “This is a really sad time - Bothwell has very long-standing links with construction and these [potential] redundancies come at a bad time [for the local economy].”

WJ Harte and Harte Group were unavailable for comment.