COLCHESTER print plant Polestar has told 85 workers not to return to work.

Employees at two of the company's three sites on Severalls Business Park were given 30-days notice of redundancy just days before Christmas.

As the notice period ended, 85 were told on Wednesday they should not return to work.

One of the plants is now set to close, while a second one will be significantly downsized. The third site is unaffected.

The employees, who worked on the M4000 press and in the Polestar binding base, said they were furious at being told the news by colleagues, instead of senior management.

The blow comes after they agreed to take a ten per cent pay cut in 2012 and work more hours to stave off the threat of redundancy.

One former employee, who did not want to be named, has worked for the firm for more than a decade.

He said: “That’s it for us, it’s the end of an era.

“I took the pay cut to keep the place going and then on our last day, not one person from management could be bothered to come to the floor, shake our hands and say ‘thanks for all your work and all the best’.

“All the workers got together and promised to keep in touch. A lot of us have been working together for a long time, so it was a strange feeling.”

The man has to complete 12 weeks “gardening leave” before he can claim his redundancy payment.

It is understood bosses have offered workers two weeks’ pay for every year worked at the firm.

Another worker, who also wanted to remain anonymous, has worked at Polestar for eight years.

He added: “It felt like management were embarrassed by us or something. I did a lot of overtime and gave some loyal service, so for me it is gutting.

“We knew this was coming.

There has been no investment in Colchester – none at all.

“A lot of our work was moved or was being moved to another site and the short-run plant in Colchester was doing more, so we knew something was coming.”

The Colchester sites were used to print the BT phonebook, until the contract was moved to Spain. It now prints women’s magazines Best and Now, as well as music magazine Kerrang.

Polestar did not respond to requests for comment.