A Bury plumbing company have issued a response after being named and shamed by the government for failing to pay five of their workers the minimum wage.

Brownbridge Ltd, trading as George Brown & Sons of Millet Street Bury, were listed number 33 on a list of 260 employers which had failed to pay 16,000 workers at least the minimum wage, released by the department of Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy on December 8 - as reported in last week's Bury Times.

The firm refuted what they said mounted to an insinuation that they had knowingly underpaid their workers.

Damian McCabe, Managing Director at George Brown & Sons, said: "The true facts of the situation are the five workers noted are apprentice plumbers, heating engineers and electricians who form part of the firm's apprentice programme, of which George Brown & Sons is very proud to have run for many years, since the original formation of the company in 1870.

"It was with knowledge and instruction for the various colleges that the individual apprentices attended that they were paid the level of hourly rate.

"We now understand the information given was incorrect and was not in accordance with the National Minimum Wage, and we further accept that it is our full responsibility to determine the correct hourly rate not the college's.

"As soon as the discrepancy was identified the company calculated the value of underpayment and the timescale incurred, and made the shortfall of payment to the individual employees - an average value of £1,034.96 per engineer."

The company said it had been paying the individuals affected by the underpayment for too many hours per week, albeit on the wrong rate, adding: "this has now been adjusted downwards to the correct hours per week."

Mr McCabe added: "George Browne & Sons employs in excess of 80 employees and is immensely proud of its heritage.

"It is with regret that the oversight has resulted in our name being mentioned in any relation to paying our employees incorrectly.

"The company will continue to actively employ and train local individuals on our apprentice programme to a level of expertise in their chosen profession, and we will always strive to treat all individuals fairly, correctly and professionally."