Peter Morrison, chief executive of RMJM
Practice due to be paid Middle East debt tomorrow
RMJM chief executive Peter Morrison has admitted the firm’s reputation among staff caused by its failure to pay their salaries on time may never recover.
Today marks the fifth missed pay-cheque for staff in its New York office – the equivalent of two and a half month’s wages – while principals are now owed three months’ pay.
Yesterday the firm sent an email to staff in New York, spelling out a timetable of payments. It said it had agreed a deal with a client on a debt in the Middle East, and Morrison apologised for wages not being paid on time.
In the email, seen by BD, he conceded that the firm’s stock had been hugely damaged by the affair He wrote: “[It] will have left many scars and for that I am very sorry.”
Morrison said RMJM expected the first tranche of money from its client, believed to be Dubai Properties Group, to be paid into its Dubai account tomorrow (March 31). He added: “The agreement will see our long outstanding debt in the Middle East settled over the coming months.”
He added that all March salaries would be paid “as soon as the funds are cleared” but admitted that staff missing January and February wages would only have 60% of the money paid, with the remainder coming in two equal amounts at the end of April and May.
But staff, who had earlier been told missing wages would be paid in January and then by the middle of February, reacted angrily to the news. One said: “The promise on the table was the full payment of all outstanding pay-cheques by the end of March.”
And another added: “Tomorrow is a weekend day in the Middle East. It’s ridiculous to suggest there will be money on the 31st. Saying ‘as soon as the funds are cleared’ leads me to believe this is more of the same. We were told repeatedly we would be fully paid on or before March 31.”
Earlier this week, BD reported that RMJM had told senior managers in New York to convince staff owed money to still turn up to work. Last month the company was hit by a mass walkout of staff which left just principals and temps showing up.
In his email yesterday, Morrison thanked staff for their “patience and forbearance” during the period and added: “I want to put on record my deep appreciation for the continuing world-class work which our studios have continued to produce.”
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