400 staff lose jobs be­fore Christ­mas

Big Rigs - - BIG RIGS | NEWS - James Gra­ham James.Gra­[email protected]­grigs.com.au

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.

PHOTO: FACE­BOOK

CHRIST­MAS CHAOS: Redstar’s col­lapse had a dev­as­tat­ing im­pact on fam­i­lies.

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