Hastie workers take the sack to get entitlements

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Hastie workers take the sack to get entitlements

The ETU has cut a deal with the Hastie administrators to make about 480 Watters Electrical workers redundant so they can be paid their entitlements.

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The Electrical Trades Union (ETU) has cut a deal with the Hastie administrators to make about 480 Watters Electrical workers redundant so they can be paid their entitlements.

The Hastie Group went into voluntary administration this week and its 2700 workforce was stood down without pay for a month.

On Monday, the ETU made an urgent application to Fair Work Australia to have the stand down of the Watters workers reversed.

‘Notionally employed’
 
‘The administrator has committed an act of corporate bastardry to our members at Watters by keeping them notionally “employed” but in reality having them stood down without pay,’ ETU Vic branch secretary Dean Mighell said.

‘What this action by the Administrator means is that the stood down workers are left in limbo, being technically employed but without a wage.’

‘They are then denied the ability to register for unemployment benefits or to access their own redundancy funds because they are deemed to be still employed.’

Yesterday the administrator agreed that the workers can now terminate their employment and access entitlements if they want to.

Mighell said the workers should not be punished for the company’s collapse.

‘Blokes who worked for this company for decades were marched in, had to drop off their cars, clean out their locker, leave their mobile phone [and] were marched off the premises after 30 years or more of sacrifice and work for one company,’ he said.

Disgrace
 
‘I think the situation [the workers] have been put in is an absolute disgrace.’

Mighell said a current Watters job needed to be completed so the 30-odd people will more than likely be picked up by another company and able to finish the project.

‘But after that, no one’s really certain,’ he said.

Mighell said the union’s focus is on finding jobs for the workers who have quit.

‘Their families are devastated,’ he said.
 
‘It’s a tragic situation. We’re confident that at least we can get jobs for half of them in the next couple of weeks.’

The union will no longer pursue the matter at Fair Work Australia.

AMWU NSW secretary Tim Ayres said the appointment of administrators to the Hastie group of engineering and manufacturing companies has left thousands of workers uncertain about their futures.

He said workers at some sites were immediately stood down, while at other sites business is continuing as new buyers are sought.
 
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