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Issue #1511      27 July 2011

Shameful company robs print workers of entitlements

Last week’s closure of Australia’s largest envelope manufacturer has sparked calls from the AMWU (Australian Manufacturing Workers’ Union) for a shake-up of corporate laws. Earlier this month, 300 workers at Australian Envelopes were instructed to leave work after learning their company had entered administration, millions of dollars in debt. By the following week all but 11 workers were made redundant by administrators PPB.

AMWU national secretary Dave Oliver said the chain of events had come as a shock to workers who were told months earlier that the company was performing well.

“They had been doing overtime for months in order to keep up with demand so there was no reason to question the viability of the company. But management and the CEO simply didn’t have the guts to talk to them about the financial situation.”

The company, which employed workers in every major Australian capital city, had up to 45 percent of the market share with clients from the ATO to Commonwealth Bank and Centrelink.

It has also been revealed the company had dipped into the workers’ entitlements, using it as an interest-free loan.

Mr Oliver said unfortunately the misuse of workers’ entitlements was not an isolated case. “These actions are not illegal under our current corporate system but it is something we will be campaigning to see changed.

“When somebody takes something from you without asking, and doesn’t give it back, there’s a word for that. Well that’s exactly what management at Australian Envelopes did to these 300 workers.”

Workers will now have to rely on the federal government scheme known as GEERS to receive their entitlements, estimated at $12 million and they could take up to six months to process.  

Next article – Gillard should follow New York and ditch bonus scheme

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