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Ostwald Bros worker told: No redundancy at this stage

SAD TIMES: Ostwald Bros workers gather for an emergency meeting in Dalby.
SAD TIMES: Ostwald Bros workers gather for an emergency meeting in Dalby. Michael Doyle

ONE of the Ostwald Bros workers sacked by administrators of the troubled civil construction company said employees had not been promised redundancy payments.

Naish Kenny, who worked for Ostwald Bros on the Toowoomba Second Range Crossing, said he received a call this morning that he was one of 260 workers across the state who had lost their jobs.

The Toowoomba resident and machine operator said sacked employees were not offered redundancy payments, but that might change in the future.

SACKED: Former Ostwald Bros worker Naish Kenny said he wasn't guaranteed redundancy payouts after being told he was one of 260 staff laid off from the civil construction company.
SACKED: Former Ostwald Bros worker Naish Kenny said he wasn't guaranteed redundancy payouts after being told he was one of 260 staff laid off from the civil construction company. Facebook

"They sent out an email saying they'd be notifying people who were laid off, (and) I was told I was no longer needed," he said.

"(The worst part was) to be told they didn't have any money to pay out any redundancies.

"At the moment, there are no payments but there might be down the track.

"It was a bit of a shock but you could see it was coming, just with what was happening."

Mr Kenny said the uncertainty leading up to the revelation this morning was the worst part.

"I'm not too bad, but for two days I didn't know what was happening," he said.

"At least I can move on and get another job."

While Mr Kenny was officially sacked today, he hadn't worked on the Toowoomba Second Range Crossing since August 15.

"We left the work site the week before last on a Tuesday - we were told that the company (Ostwald Bros) hadn't been paid," he said.

Western Downs Mayor Paul McVeigh said the council was working with the Department of State Development to organise an information session for sacked workers.

"What we have done this morning is we've had a conversation with State Development and we're going to put on a workshop to tell them what the job opportunities are for those laid off workers," he said.

"We'll try to pull that together in the near future - that's what we're trying to do to offset the angst that people will have."

UPDATE 12pm: Hundreds of workers have been sacked after the administrators of Ostwald Bros handed down the findings of an initial review this morning.

Derrick Vickers of PriceWaterhouseCoopers said 260 staff were made redundant and 140 workers would remain stood down as he and fellow administrator Sam Marsden continued to investigate the struggling civil construction company.

A lifeline may be thrown to 140 employees who have been asked to continue to stand down, pending the outcome of discussions with lead contractors on a number of sites that could see these projects return to operation.

It is believed the workers will learn who is being sacked at a special meeting at 1pm.

"This is not a decision we have taken lightly, and we explored all options for continuing the entire Group's operations on a business-as-usual basis," Mr Vickers said.

"Unfortunately the current position of the company is such that this was not possible.

"However, we are in discussions with contractors at several sites and are hopeful that up to 140 employees will be able to return to work early next week."

Creditors will learn more about the financial position of the company at a meeting on September 6.

Creditors should register their claim with the Administrator by calling (07) 3257 5111.

  • If you are one of the sacked workers and want to tell your story email tom.gillespie@thechronicle.com.au.
VACANT: Little activity at Ostwald Bros. Dalby.
VACANT: Little activity at Ostwald Bros. Dalby. Michael

EARLIER: Ostwald Bros' 470 workers are still unlikely to return to work today, as a review of the company's financial woes looks set to be handed down this morning.

The civil construction company's Dalby office remained closed this morning after employees were stood down on Monday following an announcement it was placed into administration.

It is believed the company told workers they weren't required to return to work today, and that their futures would be known after administrators PriceWaterhouseCoopers released findings from their review into the business this morning.

A spokesman for PwC said the review was expected to be released about 11am, which would determine if Ostwald Bros could be traded out of trouble or whether further action was needed.

The revelations sent shockwaves through the region, with both Labor and the LNP, industry lobby groups and regional mayors expressing their sadness at the news.

Ostwald Bros CEO Brendan Ostwald.
Ostwald Bros CEO Brendan Ostwald. Harry Clarke

Toowoomba Surat Basin Enterprise executive chairman Shane Charles yesterday said the troubles at Ostwald Bros were reflective of the entire civil construction sector.

"Civil construction over the past few years has been really tough," he said.

"Ostwald Bros aren't alone - everyone has been doing it tough for the past few years.

"A bit of it was coming off the back of the gas industry - people had geared up for that market, and when that stopped, people were competing for the same work.

"I'm aware of other companies where margins are skinny."

CEO Brendan Ostwald pointed to ongoing contractual disputes with major projects as the reason for the board's decision to enter voluntary administration.

 

VACANT: Little activity at Ostwald Bros. Dalby.
VACANT: Little activity at Ostwald Bros. Dalby. Michael

Topics:  dalby ostwald bros pricewaterhouse coopers toowoomba


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