Cardiff Hastie workers sacked by SMS

WORKERS at Hastie Group’s Cardiff operation were sacked by text message yesterday as the parent company entered into administration with debts estimated at $500million.

About 100 employees, mainly air-conditioning mechanics, project managers and administration staff, were told they had been stood down for 28 days without pay via a text on their mobile phones.

It was estimated about 2700 jobs could be lost throughout Australia as a result of financial mismanagement from a company employee.

Australian Manufacturing Workers Union state organiser Daniel Wallace said the Cardiff employees should be able to retrieve their 28-days’ pay under the Security of Entitlements scheme.

But he feared for their long-term future because Hastie Group was likely to close the service divisions of its 47 companies, and Cardiff was one of those.

‘‘It’s a complex mix of companies going into administration but apparently the idea is to sell them as a going concern,’’ Mr Wallace said.

‘‘But that would only be the companies that have existing contracts and the ones that have no fixed contracts, like Cardiff, would be wound up.

‘‘The workers’ entitlements will not be known until the secured creditors are known by the liquidators but these people will need a lot of support.’’

Hastie bought M&H Air Conditioning in Pendlebury Road, Cardiff, four years ago for about $15 million. Several Newcastle companies are thought to be creditors.

The full extent of the financial dealings of the company should be known by the end of the week when administrators take over the books.

Federal Opposition Leader Tony Abbott said the job losses were a result of the ‘‘world’s biggest carbon tax’’ but Prime Minister Julia Gillard told Parliament that linking the two was ‘‘disgraceful’’.

Hastie had been in talks to extend its loans last week, but they broke down when Hastie found an employee had been falsifying accounts.

It said earlier this month that its first-half earnings would be zero, after two write-downs in November and a $150million loss for the six months to December 31.

The Herald

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