Release time : 2015-06-13 10:30:38
Launceston-based ACL Bearings went into receivership late last month after a $7 million federal government bail-out announced on June 28 failed to turn it around.
Receiver managers Grant Thornton yesterday confirmed two directors were paid a combined $665,000 in redundancy payments between July last year and the end of June.
Greg Keith, co-receiver manager, said that during this time ACL was seeking a taxpayer bail-out and workers agreed to cut their pay by 20 per cent by shifting to a four-day week.
Mr Keith said that as well as "moral" outrage at directors taking these funds at such a time, there was a question around the legality of payments to one director, John Capuano.
"His employment contract is in the name of ACL but his role was really with National Parts, a wholly owned subsidiary," Mr Keith said. "If there are any issues with that, we would follow that up and-or report that to the Australian Securities & Investments Commission."
Mr James defended the payments to directors.
"They were entitlements that had been incurred and were being required to be paid under their contract," he told ABC radio.
Regardless of the legalities, there is growing anger at the redundancy payments to Mr Capuano, who received 12 totalling $265,000, and fellow director Mike Saward, who received 14 payments totalling $400,000.
Neither director could be contacted yesterday, but Mr Saward at a creditors' meeting on Monday refused to answer workers' questions about whether he would repay some the money to help fund their redundancies.
Mr Keith confirmed ACL chairman Ivan James was paid a weekly wage of $7814 from July 1. This was days after the federal assistance package was announced and ended a period of five months when Mr James worked for $1 a week.
Mr Keith said there was no money left in the company to pay workers' entitlements, meaning workers would have to rely solely on the federal government's safety net redundancy scheme.
However, this scheme was capped at 16 weeks' pay, whereas some ACL workers were entitled to 96 weeks under the terms of their employment.
Mr Keith said he was confident the company - seen as vital to the Australian operations of major carmakers Ford and Toyota - would have a viable future once restructured.
However, there was mounting anger and frustration among the workforce of 270 in Launceston and 50 at ACL's gasket plant in Brisbane. Jeremy Partridge, an ACL worker of 23 years, said workers felt betrayed. "We've been shafted: they've walked away with the money and we get next to nothing," he said.
"We voluntarily took a pay cut, which for me was about $100 a week - that makes quite an impact when you've got kids of school age."