Redstar Transport’s 400 workers to receive entitlements during liquidation, PwC says
Millions of dollars owed to hundreds of truck drivers across the country following the sudden closure of a national freight firm will be covered by the Government’s worker protection scheme, its liquidator has confirmed.
PricewaterhouseCoopers confirmed yesterday it was appointed to wind up Redstar Transport, ending speculation about the company’s future.
PwC’s Stephen Longley said the Federal Government’s worker protection scheme means Redstar Transport’s 400 workers will be paid most of the $7 million owed in entitlements, such as annual and long service leave.
But he said it would be “a real time of uncertainty” for many drivers, and that PwC was working with Toll to find work for affected staff.
“We are doing everything we can in the circumstances to manage the fallout,” Mr Longley said.
The transport union’s Michael Kaine wants the Government to fast-track entitlements. (ABC News)
Redstar’s liquidators said the company could not bridge a $3.5 million cashflow gap to immediately speed-up payments.
The transport union wants the Federal Government to fast-track the entitlement payments to workers.
“It could and should step up and ensure there’s at least an interim payment made to these families so they are under less stress for Christmas,” said Michael Kaine of the Transport Workers Union (TWU).
Among the truckies out of work is Kathy O’Keefe, who said she will not be going anywhere this Christmas after losing her job.
“I’ve told my daughters the kids are getting nothing this year for Christmas until I get another job,” she said.
Another truckie out of work is Rod Sippel of Narromine in western NSW who was driving east from Broken Hill when he received a call from a colleague about Redstar’s closure.
“I was advised that I was just to deliver the trailer I had on at the time … and when I got there that was it, no more work,” he said.
As an employee of more than 12 years, Mr Sippel said the news came as a shock and a surprise.
“It’s just the uprooting of your life and everything else and it’s become a bit of a lifestyle I suppose as well as a job,” he said.
While he said there is plenty of work around for drivers, Mr Sippel said the shutdown would hurt many in the short term.
“But there is a gap there that’s going to take place and surely a lot of anxious moments for families with four or five kids, and a mortgage,” he said.
“It’s going to be difficult for a while … especially at Christmas when people have probably maxed out their credit cards and there’s no cash coming in.”
Depots shut across country
The TWU said about 100 workers had informed them they had been sent home in the past day, and depots have been shut down around the country.
TWU spokesman Nick McIntosh said the union was working to support affected workers, especially in the days before Christmas.
“We’re not talking about a two-bit operation here, we are talking about a company that employs literally hundreds of transport workers around the country,” Mr McIntosh said.
“It is a shock and I’m sure the drivers today are shocked. As soon as we get better information, we will be communicating that with our members.”
Redstar has offices in Brisbane, Melbourne, Adelaide, Sydney, Perth and Dubbo.
It has declined to comment to the ABC.
The ABC also visited its depot at Dubbo in the central west of New South Wales, but no one responded to calls at the gate.
Dubbo-based Redstar worker John Redford said some of the 20 drivers at the Dubbo depot were drought-affected farmers from surrounding towns, such as Orange and Gilgandra, who were working to make ends meet during the big dry.
He said the company was also contracted to deliver post around the country, meaning the fallout from the company’s failure extends beyond the workers and their families.
“There’s probably Christmas cards [in certain trucks] people just aren’t going to receive this side of Christmas because of these actions,” Mr Redford said.