Infracon staff 'shafted' by news 89 jobs to go

KELSEY WILKIE
Last updated 12:00 27/08/2014
INfracon liquidation
DAVID UNWIN/Fairfax NZ
DEAD END: Infracon is going into liquidation.

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Infracon employees have been left "feeling shafted" after almost half the staff were asked to leave this week.

PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC) was appointed as the liquidator for the council-owned roading company Infracon on Monday morning.

Meetings were held in Palmerston North, Woodville and Hastings to inform staff that 98 employees, most of them from Tararua, would lose their jobs.

It was announced last week that the company, jointly owned by the Central Hawke's Bay and Tararua district councils, would be placed into liquidation because of ongoing financial losses - putting more than 200 jobs at risk.

An ex-employee said the liquidator was announced at 10.05am, at 10.30am staff were called to a meeting with PwC and by 11am many no longer had jobs.

Tararua District Council set up a support hub for Infracon staff this week at the Sports Stadium in Woodville, offering a budgeting service, appointments with Work and Income and help with writing a CV.

The ex-employee, who had worked for the company for 36 years, said he was left with no other option but to find work elsewhere.

"It's good that they're trying to help us after shafting us," he said.

He said he would hopefully find some work within Manawatu but might have to look outside the region.

Central Amalgamation Workers Union representative Mark Anderson attended the workers' meeting in Hastings with PwC on Monday.

He said a bus was waiting outside the meeting to take staff home, as they had been told to hand over the keys to the company vehicles.

"It's all pretty grim. There's a lot of people who have been here quite a long time."

Most employees had worked for the company for about 15 years, he said.

Infracon chief executive Darren Mason said it was devastating for the staff and the wider community to hear the company was going into liquidation.

"We support a lot of local businesses. I think the impact of this is going to be felt throughout the region."

Liquidator John Fisk said the staff would be entitled to a preferential claim of up to $20,340 for wages, holiday pay and redundancy.

He said they were likely to be paid but it was more a question of when that would be.

"We have to get enough money in to be able pay that out. We will be looking at what cash equity can be raised to be able to pay that as quickly as possible."

Fisk said that when a company was placed into liquidation all employment contracts were terminated.

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He said 113 staff would continue to work on a day-to-day basis and would enter into a liquidator's agreement.

"What it looks like at this stage is that there is an energy division that has good contracts and all the employees have been asked to remain."

The division is based in Hastings and Palmerston North.

PwC will be advertising parts of the business being for sale as a going concern.

"We don't believe we will be able to sell the whole business."

He said the sales process would probably take up to three months.

- Manawatu Standard

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