The AMWU has vowed to do everything we can to maximize the chances that our members made redundant at Queensland Nickel near Townsville will be paid their entitlements in full.
Some positive news for our 19 members among the 237 refinery workers who lost their jobs a week ago Friday is that the company’s administrators have told the AMWU that employees made redundant will be given first priority among creditors in being paid out.
But the administrators FTI Consulting then stated there are insufficient funds to pay about $70 million owing creditors unless Queensland Nickel is able to trade its way out of trouble in coming months or they find a buyer for the company owned by politician and businessman Clive Palmer.
“Our members can keep in mind that we will be leaving no stone unturned to recover their entitlements in full, money they are owed which Clive Palmer has wasted,” said AMWU Queensland Secretary Rohan Webb.
He said the AMWU would join other unions seeking to hold the administrators to giving workers priority over creditors including Aurizon, the Port of Townsville and Clive Palmer's own companies rather than being thrown back on the Government’s Fair Entitlements Guarantee scheme.
AMWU organiser Scott Martin intends to be among union officials attending a creditors’ meeting expected next week.
The 237 refinery workers put off were paid their final week’s wages and were given their individual calculations on the entitlements owing to them by the administrators in meetings on Wednesday.
Mr Webb said our 90 members at Queensland Nickel had every right to feel angry and betrayed over the $21 million taken from company funds to support the Palmer United Party as Queensland Nickel struggled to survive amid plunging world nickel prices.
The union was concentrating on members and their families, plus supporting efforts by the Queensland Government to bring forward $125 million in works projects in Townsville to create over 400 jobs.
“We’re mindful about the stress on our members still working at Queensland Nickel, the uncertainty everyone is facing and we’ll be liaising closely with them as the company tries to trade through this period,” he said.
Former AMWU delegate Jodie Donovan said he was owed tens of thousands of dollars by QN and others were owed up to $167,000. He said members needed more information on their legal rights as creditors and how the FEG operated if necessary to access it.
“I’m tiring of hearing words from everyone, from the company, until we see cash in the bank it means little to me, ” he said, adding that a letter of apology from Mr Palmer was an “insult.”
“Unemployment is already 13 per cent here, i’m worried for other guys - it’s sickening they sacked 17 apprentices when some people in management are still sitting out there.”