400 staff lose jobs before Christmas
WHEN the devastating news broke just before Christmas, Big Rigs knew more about Redstar Transport’s financial woes than its shell-shocked drivers.
Shaken line-haul employee Jess Lowry, 37, reached out to us from the road via email wanting to know more.
Just minutes earlier he said he’d been hung up on by management and allocation staff had texted that his load was cancelled. There were other reports filtering through that drivers out on the roads at changeover points needed to find their own way back home.
“I was told that I would be contacted via phone but now I’m sitting at home with no job and no reply to my request for my holiday pay as yet,” he writes.
“I have three little kids and was left with nothing as the departments who can help are also closed until the new year.”
When we spoke with Jess on January 3 he’d already filed his claim for assistance under the Federal Government’s Fair Entitlements Guarantee (FEG) Scheme, but was told he could be waiting for up to 16 weeks for compensation.
Jess said he’d only been with Redstar for six months so he’s not owed as much as many of his colleagues.
The company had depots across Australia and ran an estimated 200 trucks, often working as a subcontractor to haulage giants Toll, Startrack and TNT.
“I’m sure it’s left a lot of people high and dry. I little bit of notice could have been good for everybody in hindsight. This couldn’t have been an overnight decision.”
Company directors John Dixon and Sean Williams told staff that liquidators were being appointed and they were being made redundant “effective immediately” in a letter handed to them on December 19, reported The Australian.
“We are very sorry that this has occurred, particularly so close to Christmas,” the directors said.
“Please be assured that we as directors are doing everything we possibly can to ensure that you are paid your entitlements as quickly as possible.”
Stephen Longley and Martin Ford of PwC Australia have been appointed as liquidators but, with no money in the Redstar coffers, even they needed a financial pledge from Toll and ANZ before consenting to their appointment.
“This is a terrible situation at any time, let alone on the eve of the holidays. We are doing everything we can in the circumstances to manage the fallout,” said Mr Longley before Christmas.
“Somebody needs to stand up for these 400 employees and make sure their entitlements are calculated and paid by FEG.”
On Christmas Eve, the Transport Workers Union received a commitment from the Minister for Jobs and Industrial Relations Kelly O’Dwyer to expedite claims for lost pay and entitlements.
But the government’s pledge stopped short of promising claims would be considered prior to the reopening of the Department of Jobs on January 2.
CHRISTMAS CHAOS: Redstar’s collapse had a devastating impact on families.