Susan Leavy and Helen Sadler, both from Essex, were sacked from Synter Group Limited’s BMW garage in Chigwell in March 2007 when they were told their roles were being moved to Leicester.

The firm had decided to centralise all its in-bound calls through its Leicester office so that part of the women’s work would be redundant.

The women, who had 17 years experience working for the firm between them, were given less than a week’s consultation about the move before being told not to return to work.

Following their redundancy the women contacted their union Unite which instructed Thompsons Solicitors to pursue an unfair dismissal case.

After three days of evidence at the tribunal Synter settled the case out of court.

Mrs Leavy, 57, from Ilford was reservations supervisor for Synter and Ms Sadler, 39, from Loughton was a customer services advisor.

Mrs Leavy has not found a new job since she was made redundant, but is now helping her husband with his business.

She said: “I couldn’t believe it when they told me I would be made redundant. We knew that there was a possibility of the calls being centralized, but I had always been told that it would not affect my job. I worked for the firm for 11 years and it was like my family. They used to call me ‘mum’ and people came to me if they wanted anything.

“Fortunately I have been able to use the compensation to fund some marketing for my husband’s business. I’ve not been able to find alternative work, so I now work a few hours for him.”

Ms Sadler found a job six months later after sending out 149 applications.

She said: “We were given such short notice it made it difficult to find a job. At one point I thought I was going to lose my house and it is only because my dad stepped in that I still have it.”

Steve Hart from Unite said: “We are pleased this case has come to a successful conclusion for these members. They were treated appallingly despite years working for Sytner. Unite’s legal service was there for women when they needed it most on losing their jobs so suddenly and unexpectedly.”

Nicola Welchman from Thompsons Solicitors said: “This case highlights the importance of employers having an open and meaningful consultation period with employees in every redundancy situation.

“This would have meant that Mrs Leavy and Ms Sadler could have been offered, or could have applied for vacancies within the dealership. It would have avoided the need for these long-standing employees to face the financial hardship caused by unemployment.”