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Local company leaves workers in the lurch for thousands in lost wages – Edmonton

EDMONTON — Former workers of Edmonton-based Innovate Building Systems lost their jobs and say they’re owed tens of thousands in wages.

Last month, about 100 employees were let go without explanation by the company, which builds customized modular homes.

“I’ve been screwed. We’ve all been screwed,” said Matthew Grunenheidt, who has had to move to Saskatchewan for work to support his young family.

Grunenheidt and his girlfriend both worked at Innovate and say they’re each owed at least $10,000 in wages.

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“Our bank accounts are in the negative,” he said. “We still have bills and I can’t just tell [the banks] I haven’t gotten paid. A few things have gone to collections now and it’s just heartbreaking.”

Innovate Building Systems has been in business since 2011. In June, the company secured an $8.8-million contract with an oil and gas company in the Northwest Territories.

Global Edmonton spoke to several other former employees who said the company has been stringing them along, promising payment but not following through.

When the company did issue cheques, they bounced.

“It’s a pretty despicable, scummy thing to do to treat people like that,” said Terry Murphy, a former employee.

“Pay your people; it’s not hard to do,” said Kyle Pickett, another former employee. “They should come first; they’re the ones who brought you where you are. They told us we’re the soul of this — why kill your soul?”

Global Edmonton tried repeatedly to reach Innovate CEO Kevin Grady, but our calls were never returned. A reporter confronted him at his home Sunday and he apologized, saying the company got into financial trouble after it grew too fast.

“I’m not happy about it; I’m very sorry,” he said. “I’m working very hard to get it rectified and that’s my goal right now.”

Several former employees have complained to Alberta Employment Standards to reclaim their lost wages.

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