Fridge workers put heat on new redundancy guarantee
Jan 25, 2011
Leigh Diehm addresses members prior to a meeting with administrators
The AMWU has asked the Federal Government to make sure the newly created ‘Fair Entitlements Guarantee’ doesn't leave refrigeration workers out in the cold.
Last week over 100 workers from Frigrite in Cheltenam in Melbourne’s south were told they would lose their jobs together with their entitlements, after the company entered administration owing millions to creditors.
Acting AMWU Assistant Victorian Secretary Leigh Diehm said the workers would be the first to benefit from the Federal Government’s commitment to protect redundancy entitlements for uncapped periods of service.
"Previously, workers with decades of service would have their redundancy pay limited to 16 weeks total. The new guarantee covers workers up to 4 weeks per year of service, for every year they've worked. It makes a big difference."
However, he expressed concern the Frigrite workers could still be left waiting for months until the payments could be made available.
“Now that the workers have been made redundant, we have asked GEERS (General Employee Entitlements and Redundancy Scheme) to make these payments a matter of urgency, instead of waiting for liquidation which is the usual process.
“We have also written to the Minister, Chris Evans, asking him to ensure the payment process is streamlined when the guarantee is legislated later this year.”
“Common sense should prevail and people should not be left without funds to cover basic living costs because of delays in liquidation,” Mr Diehm said.
Senior delegate Mark Murphy said the workers were anxious about the prospect of entering unemployment without their entitlements.
“Some are worried about losing their houses. They weren’t expecting this, others could see it coming.
“As late as few weeks ago we were being told by the HR manager there would be money available in the event the business did close, but that hasn't happened.
“I’ll reverse on my house and collateral. But not everyone’s in that position. I’ll survive but this is going to cost me."
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