Staff laid off from firm set to get Christ­mas and hol­i­day pay

South Waikato News - - NEWS / HE PU¯RONGORONGO - By MIKE MATHER

A wafer- thin sil­ver lining has been re­vealed to ac­com­pany the mas­sive dark cloud that set­tled on work­ers laid off from a Toko­roabased con­tract­ing firm just be­fore Christ­mas.

The 76 staff for­merly em­ployed by Phil Rouse Ltd will at least get their Christ­mas Wages in­clud­ing statu­tory days and out­stand­ing hol­i­day pay paid to them.

That was, po­ten­tially, the one bit of good news to come out of a meet­ing for the com­pany’s cred­i­tors held at Hamil­ton Gar­dens yes­ter­day.

The 17 cred­i­tors who at­tended voted to ex­clude me­dia from that meet­ing and, af­ter its con­clu­sion 90 min­utes later, none wanted to share their hopes and ex­pec­ta­tions that they might see the re­turn of some of the $6.8 mil­lion the com­pany owes to about 100 com­pa­nies, em­ploy­ees and In­land Rev­enue.

Like­wise liq­uida­tors Jeff Meltzer and Lloyd Hay­ward of Mel- tzer Ma­son were ret­i­cent about re­veal­ing too many de­tails of the plan.

‘‘The liq­uida­tors have been con­firmed and are in po­si­tion,’’ Hay­ward said. ‘‘The pri­or­ity will be to the se­cured cred­i­tors. It is un­likely funds out of ini­tial pay­ments will be go­ing to un­se­cured cred­i­tors.’’

The cred­i­tors at the meet­ing had also ap­pointed a liq­ui­da­tion com­mit­tee, Meltzer said.

‘‘We will be re­port­ing back to the cred­i­tors in about three to four weeks’ time with de­tails on where we go to from here. We will be look­ing at a few dif­fer­ent sce­nar­ios.’’

Ear­lier this year Rouse, the com­pany’s founder, told the Waikato Times his com­pany had hit trou­ble over a $6m con­tract for work on the Ran­giriri sec­tion of the NZ Trans­port Agency’s Waikato Ex­press­way, while it was a sub­con­trac­tor to Fletcher Con­struc­tion.

Rouse wouldn’t go into de­tail about what hap­pened, how­ever the ini­tial liq­uida­tor re­port states ‘‘is­sues arose with the head con­trac­tor’’.

Phil Rouse Ltd had been in op­er­a­tion for al­most 40 years, and Rouse said he felt like he had been ‘‘gut­ted from top to toe’’ by the clo­sure. He told his staff, 48 of whom are full time em­ploy­ees, just be­fore Christ­mas they were not needed.

‘‘It’s been pretty dev­as­tat­ing ... [They are] very, very loyal and ded­i­cated peo­ple, and hard­work­ing at that.’’

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