IT was his first job after college and Ross Malcolm worked hard for long hours in a bid to impress his boss.

But for years his pay fell way below the minimum wage and when he eventually questioned it, he was dismissed.

He lost his job after pleading with his boss at Helensburgh Tyre Centre to pay him what he was due and was evicted from his home because he couldn’t afford to pay his rent.

Mr Malcolm, 25, was later awarded more than £34,000 by an employment tribunal - but has never received a penny from garage owner Frank Aranci because the firm is now bankrupt.

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“The whole thing has been sickening,” he said.

“It was my first job and I really wanted to do well. I worked hard and this is how I was treated.

“It was slave labour, I kept asking him to sort it but he never did.

“He used to tell me he couldn’t afford to pay me anymore but then he would be off on fancy holidays to Florida or Dubai.

“I was the only one working there and I kept the business going while he was away, even though I was being paid less than I should have been.

“When I realised I was being underpaid, I went on to the government website and used an online calculator to see how much I should have been getting and I was shocked.”

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The issue came to a head in March 2015 when Mr Malcolm, of Helensburgh, began to suffer financial problems due to his low pay.

He began to accrue debt on his flat and was issued with an eviction notice. He met with the housing association and reached an agreement to pay £1000 by March 25.

Mr Aranci initially said he would help his worker pay the arrears but never did.

On the day he was due to be evicted, Mr Malcolm told his boss that he was “fed up” and should at least be paid the minimum wage.

The businessman replied that he was not getting anymore money and Mr Malcolm walked out after being told to “get to f**k”.

Mr Malcolm said: “I was heartbroken. I lost my job and ended up being evicted and I had to move back to my mum’s.

“I couldn’t believe it after everything I had done for the business, all the hard work I had done.”

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The tribunal found that Mr Malcolm, who represented himself at the hearing, had been underpaid by almost £10,000 and had been unfairly dismissed by the garage. 

He was also awarded payment for holidays he was never allowed to take.

Employment judge Muriel Robison awarded him a total of £34,484.41.

However, he has never received any money from Mr Aranci as the company he worked for no longer exists.

Another business, now owned by Mr Aranci’s wife, continues to trade at the premises with Mr Aranci as manager, however they are not liable for the tribunal payout.

Mr Malcolm, who now works in McDonald’s after spending several years in an out of work, described the situation as a “kick in the teeth”.

“When I finally got the letter from the tribunal saying I had been awarded the money, I was over the moon,” he said.

“It was unreal, I thought ‘finally I can pay off all my debt’. 

“But it turns out the company is bankrupt, so I’ve never received the money, even though he appears to be running the same business at the same premises. It’s sickening.”

Figures published last year by the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) show that hundreds of thousands of pounds of tribunal awards went unpaid in 2017 due to insolvency.

Some of these figures have been linked to “phoenixing”, where a firm intentionally becomes insolvent only to continue trading as a similar company.

In Mr Malcolm’s case, Companies House records show that Helensburgh Tyre Centre Ltd dissolved in September last year, but another firm - Local Tyre Services - continues to operate at the site with a sign still saying Helensburgh Tyre Centre.

Mr Aranci said he was not aware of the tribunal as his firm was being managed by administrators at the time the claim was raised.

He added: “Unfortunately I wasn’t given an opportunity to defend the allegations against my old company and myself.”

The businessman also claimed that Mr Malcolm was being paid correctly when he worked there and denied he was unfairly dismissed.

Mr Malcolm initially lodges his claim with the tribunal in 2015 but could not proceed with it due to fees which were in place at the time.

After the fees were scrapped in 2017, he decided to apply again.