Walk, but no payout
TWO meat workers have told The Examiner South Grafton abattoir owner Stuart Ramsey informed staff yesterday they were not entitled to redundancy payments as a result of the closure of the site.
Wayne Randall, 21, of South Grafton, said he had been working at the site for about two years in a permanent capacity on the slaughter floor and was surprised to hear Mr Ramsey say he and his colleagues wouldn't be entitled to a redundancy payout.
"This really sucks; we've only got three weeks' notice," he said.
"There are people with mortgages and I've just got a $30,000 car loan."
Mr Randall said he wasn't interested in moving to Casino and hoped to get more hours at his casual job at Hungry Jacks.
"He told us we were guaranteed a job in Casino but we questioned this, saying realistically how can this be guaranteed?"
The Fair Work Ombudsman website says all employees working under Commonwealth workplace laws who had at least 12 months' continuous service and worked for an employer that employs 15 or more employees may be entitled to redundancy or severance payments under the National Employment Standards.
In Mr Randall's case, the website says he may be entitled to between four and six weeks' redundancy pay (depending on his start date).
Another permanent worker, who asked not to be named, corroborated Mr Randall's claim that Mr Ramsey told the group there would be no redundancies.
Information from the Fair Work Australia website states that an employer can apply to the authority to reduce employees' redundancy pay if the employer either:
The Examiner was unable to establish yesterday if such an application had been made.
Below is a list of questions sent to and answered by Casino solicitor Frank Hannigan, who represents Mr Ramsey.
Q: How many jobs are being offered at Northern Co-operative Meat Company in Casino for displaced South Grafton abattoir workers?
A: This is yet to be determined. It will depend upon the applications.
Q: The press release says "all permanent long-term employees shall be offered employment at the Northern Co-operative Meat Company in Casino" - can you please define what long-term means specifically?
A: Long term means those employed for the longest period of time.
Q: How many people work at the South Grafton site? How many are permanent? How many are non-permanent?
A: Approximately 200 people work on the South Grafton site.
Q: Have you had any indications at this early stage how many workers would be willing to move to Casino? A: It is not known how many workers would be willing to move to Casino.
Q: We have had a number of calls from workers concerned they will not be paid their entitlements. Are there sufficient funds in Ramsey Food Processing to pay these entitlements and can the company guarantee all payments will be met?
A: This is an inappropriate question.
Q: How is the deal with the NCMC working? Is Ramsey Food Processing contracting NCMC to process meat on its behalf?
A: This is confidential.
Q: What will happen to the South Grafton site now? Will it be sold? When and for how much?
A: This is confidential.
Q: A suggestion has been put to us that the decision to close the abattoir was made to avoid undertaking the orders of the Land and Environment Court, specifically the undertaking of an environmental audit and advertising in two publications. Is this true?
A: This question is not relevant.
Q: Two workers have told us that Mr Ramsey told the group this morning that they were not entitled to redundancy payments. How does this work?
A: Your report is not accurate.
Q: What award are the abattoir workers employed under?
A: It is a matter for the employees to advise you as to the award.