JOBLESS: Hunter Wholesale employee Abby Bale with stepdaughter Makayla Mason, 4, and partner Brendan Mason are concerned about
JOBLESS: Hunter Wholesale employee Abby Bale with stepdaughter Makayla Mason, 4, and partner Brendan Mason are concerned about

Lismore company dumps 35 workers

By ANDY PARKS

`FOR Abby Bale, the news she was being made redundant at the end of the week couldn't have come at a worse time.

Her four-year-old stepdaughter Makayla is due to have open-heart surgery next week at Prince Charles Hospital in Brisbane.

Abby is a receptionist with Hunter Wholesale, a confectionery distribution company based in Newcastle with operations in Lismore, Tamworth and Toowoomba. The company went into voluntary administration on February 25, and Abby is one of about 35 staff now out of work in Lismore.

"We found out last week an administrator had been called in, but we only found out on Monday that we would be out of a job," she said.

Abby has worked for the company for six years. It was her first job after finishing high school. Abby was the main bread winner for her family while her partner, Brendan Mason, stayed at home and looked after Makayla.

Makayla was born with a rare condition called Holt-Oram syndrome, an inherited disorder also known as 'heart-hand syndrome' because it is characterised by abnormalities to the upper limbs and heart. Makayla was born with no thumbs, her wrist bent backwards, two fingers joined and a hole in her heart.

"She is having surgery next Monday. She has a hole 2.7cm wide in her heart and they are going to patch it up," Abby said.

It will be Makayla's second operation, and she is likely to have several more. Abby said the costs of the operations are covered by Medicare, but they have several other expenses to cover when they go to Brisbane, including accommodation and food.

"I've applied for some other jobs this morning, but I might have to go to Centrelink when I get back from Brisbane. The hardest thing will be keeping up the car payments and other debts," she said.

Casual staff and some of the permanents at Hunter Wholesale in Lismore have already been told not to come back, while others are doing a final stocktake before finishing up at the end of the week.



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