POLICE were called after workers at a struggling engineering company locked their boss in a room – when they were told they might not be paid.

It has emerged that staff at Metallurgical Processing Limited in Blackburn became angry when told on Friday lunchtime that the company could go into administration and they would not receive their weekly pay packet.

Officers were called to reports of workers refusing to let a company boss leave Witton Mill on Stancliffe Street – but found 'no one being held hostage' when they arrived.

The Lancashire Telegraph understands workers had locked MPL director Philip Gostling in an office until he agreed to give them what they were owed.

We reported earlier this week that when staff turned up to work on Monday, the site had been locked by landlords in a dispute over rent.

A police spokesman said: "We were called at 12.10pm on Friday, November 2, to a civil dispute, where workers had refused to let someone leave a building.

"On arrival, officers found there was no one being held hostage and it looked as if workers were in the middle of sorting through a dispute."

On Wednesday morning, workers were still unable to access the site and remain in the dark regarding their jobs.

It is believed that site landlords Monte Blackburn Ltd, owned by Euro Garages entrepreneurs the Issa brothers, locked the gates to the site on Monday, over a row with MPL about unpaid rent.

Staff have also been unable to access their workplace to collect their own tools and other belongings.

A sign was placed on the locked gates on Tuesday afternoon, telling workers they would have to go through the landlord's solicitors if they wanted to retrieve their tools.

Any items uncollected by November 19 would be 'treated as abandoned and disposed of without further notice', the sign read.

Production engineer Paul Quinn said: "We still can't get in the site and we've been told now by MPL that we are being made redundant as of last week.

"We got paid for last week, eventually, but we still don't know what's going on as we've had nothing in writing.

"Our personal tools are still in that building, and the landlord is saying we have to go through his solicitors in order to get them."

MPL acquired the 90,000 sq ft leasehold premise in July this year after former owners of the company, Laser Shapes (NW), went into administration.

At the time, all the staff at the Witton Park site were retained and reassured by MPL bosses that their jobs would be safe.

Mr Gostling said earlier this week: "After we took the business over in July we were unable to access the market needed and now it's looking likely that the company will go into administration.

"It is true that we have fallen one month behind in paying rent but we were not expecting the landlord to lock the gates.

"We need access to the building to remove tools and machinery and I spoke to the landlord this morning but he has informed us we will now need to go through his lawyers.

"The turn in our financial situation happened quickly and I am genuinely concerned for all the employees and we are trying to do our best for them at this time."

The site landlord and the solicitors both refused to comment on the ongoing dispute.