The Australian Manufacturing Workers’ Union (AMWU) are outraged former Attorney- General Christian Porter and his Department knew of printing giant Ovato’s plans to restructure and did nothing to protect workers.
The union representing print manufacturing workers at Ovato who were forced to apply to have their redundancies paid through the Fair Entitlement Guarantee (FEG) scheme have called the move cruel and callous. Forcing workers to be paid through the FEG has cost the Government up to $16m.
Recent questions provided on notice at Senate Estimates revealed Porter and the department knew about Australian printing giant Ovato’s plan to restructure on July 28 -
months before workers and their union were told, and it did nothing to protect the 300 workers.
The AMWU say the department also saw through its’ media monitoring reports that Ovato CEO said: “our focus is on negotiating more appropriate redundancy scales so we can resize and save as many jobs as possible”. The department knew this statement wasn’t true, it was aware Ovato had no intention of paying workers a cent yet, again it did nothing.
Porter and his department also failed to prepare any legislative changes to the FEG to prevent solvent companies from using it to fund their corporate restructure. Mr Porter was briefed by his department but decided to do nothing to help these workers.
Workers at Ovato were left without pay or entitlements at Christmas and by Easter some were still waiting to be paid through the FEG. These same workers had fought around the clock in 2020 to support Ovato through the pandemic but were instead burnt by the company and the Morrison Government.
Quotes attributable to AMWU National Secretary Steve Murphy
“Big business and the Morrison Government have colluded to avoid paying Ovato workers what they were owed. The Morrison Government chose to stand by and allow big business to abuse the system. It’s cruel and callous.
“Michaelia Cash as the new Attorney-General needs to fix this, to ensure no worker is denied what they’re rightfully owed.
“There were 21 sitting days between when the Attorney General’s Department found out about Ovato’s intentions and 30 sitting days before the court made its decision – yet they failed to do anything to support print manufacturing workers.
“These workers worked tirelessly to support Ovato and when it came to the crunch, they were failed not only by Ovato, but by the Morrison Government – it’s callousness and it’s a disgrace.
“The Morrison Government had the chance to protect working people at printing giant Ovato and it deliberately chose not to.”
For further comment: Kate Shuttleworth [email protected], Warren Tegg 0407 213 681