‘Deep regret’ doesn’t pay workers

April 09, 2018

Riverside Meats is under investigation. Photo Luke Hemer.

RIVERSIDE MEATS has gone into voluntary liquidation and has ‘‘insufficient’’ money to pay the $622,526.46 bill owed to employees.

But that figure is only a portion of almost $8 million owed to its creditors in total.

In a letter to staff on Friday, liquidator Keith Sutherland said there was not enough money to pay employee entitlements.

‘‘At this stage it appears that there will be insufficient monies in the liquidation to pay the outstanding superannuation and other employee entitlements,’’ the letter said.

The total bill includes almost $2 million owed to the Australian Taxation Office, almost $500,000 to other unsecured creditors including the Department of Agriculture and Water and almost $5 million to secured creditor National Australia Bank. The most one employee is owed is more than $37,000. Unpaid entitlements include annual leave, long service leave, redundancies and in some cases rostered days off, according to the liquidator.

The Echuca abattoir closed in early March and went into voluntary liquidation on March 28.

In the document from the liquidators, Wayne John Tatt is listed as a director of the company and in the summary of assets there are none.

When questioned, the liquidators confirmed no assets has been recorded.

Creditors can request a meeting if at least 5 per cent agree but at this stage a meeting has not been set.

‘‘I WAS first approached to consent to act as a liquidator of the company on 19 February, 2018,’’ the document from the liquidators said.

The abattoir shut its doors in March after more than 35 years of operation.

Following that decision, the abattoir’s management sent a letter to its employees, and in it wrote that it was with ‘deep regret’ the business would be stopping production.

‘‘Unfortunately, the business has not been making profits for some time now and on a review undertaken by its accountants we have come to the realisation that we simply cannot afford to keep operating the plant,’’ the letter said. ‘‘As a result, there will be no work available for employees from this time forward and the decision has been taken to terminate the employment of all employees by reason of redundancy.’’

The letter said those employees who have entitlements to redundancy pay would be receiving those entitlements — but only in ‘due course’.

Explaining its decision in the letter – signed by (Chris Peat) – the company said “as you would be aware Riverside Meats has operated in one form or another, and employed local workers in the area for more than 35 years, and this decision was a difficult one to take and not made easily by the company”.

Management and the workers had been negotiating the Enterprise Bargaining Agreement up until the facility was closed.

In November last year workers walked out following a breakdown in ongoing negotiations concerning wages and conditions. Industrial action was eventually called off so negotiations continued.

The liquidation result has left workers infuriated.

Read their stories in Wednesday’s Riv.

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