House debates

Wednesday, 27 August 2014

Constituency Statements

Bruck Textile Technologies

9:42 am

Photo of Cathy McGowanCathy McGowan (Indi, Independent) Share this | | Hansard source

On 11 July this year, 58 employees of Bruck Textile Technologies lost their jobs. Circumstances meant that they were left with no entitlements. Many of them had been with the company for decades. The sudden liquidation of this company, which had been an icon in Wangaratta for 70 years, came as a shock to the workforce and the local community.

Last Friday I attended a workshop for some of these workers. One of the first things they said to me was they did not want what had happened to them to happen to their colleagues or any other Australian workers. That says plenty about the mindset and the camaraderie of these people, who are now looking for work. They still care and they do not want others to go through the same pain that they have had to endure for the last two months.

They told me that the Wangaratta community has been very supportive. The workshop they were attending was put on by local businesses ATEL and Reddin Partners, and was free.

The government has also been very supportive. On behalf of the workers I would like to thank the Minister for Employment, Senator Eric Abetz, for making good on his commitment to expedite the Fair Entitlements Guarantee, to get the outstanding entitlements paid as soon as possible. Indeed, for these workers to have been paid what they were owed by Bruck Textile Technologies within six weeks the government deserves to be congratulated.

However, there are some constraints with FEG. Not all the sick leave, accrued and banked time was paid. The ex-workers feel it is not their fault that they were not paid their full dues and in normal circumstances would have been paid this money. They have a few key messages that they have asked me to pass on to this parliament: please don't let this happen again. They have asked me to protect the people still working and to ensure that there is a future for regional manufacturing in Australia. They have asked that their sick leave, their accrued time and their bank time be included in FEG, and they have asked for legislation to be drawn up so that workers are paid their full entitlement. They do not want to have to rely on charity. The workers ask that the government change this legislation to ensure that workers get the full protection they deserve.

The support these former workers need is there in our community, but unfortunately the jobs they need are not. The immediate future for them is one of completing courses, upskilling and retraining, and having the belief that things will turn around and that they will soon return to being the productive members of society that they want and deserve to be. Mr Deputy Speaker, I ask for your help to look at this legislation, to take action on behalf of the government to ensure that the full entitlements of these workers are met. Thank you.