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Company closures see job losses

JONO GALUSZKA AND TALIA SHADWELL
Last updated 12:40 18/09/2012

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Twenty-five jobs have been lost during the receivership of companies involved with Palmerston North rubbish and recycling firm Cairns Group.

PricewaterhouseCoopers is the receiver of Manawatu Transfer Station and Cairns Transport Ltd, both part of the Cairns Group which was owned by Ash Cairns.

The two companies were put into receivership earlier this year to try to pay off about $4 million in debt.

Transfer stations in Palmerston North and Feilding were both leased by Cairns Group.

When PwC took control, there were eight Cairns staff at the Feilding transfer station and 32 employed at the Palmerston North station.

John Fisk from PwC said three former Cairns staff had been offered work in Feilding by the new leasee Smart Environmental, while 12 had been offered work in Palmerston North by EnviroWaste.

"The rest are, unfortunately, unemployed."

Almost all of Cairns Group's assets have been sold off as part of the receivership.

The Large Materials Recovery Facility - a top-of-the-line recycling sorter from the Palmerston North transfer station, costing Cairns $2.5m - was sold to a group from Christchurch.

Lease arrangements have been put in place by two companies to take over Cairns' work in Palmerston North and Feilding.

The two transfer stations were shut last week, with Manawatu District Council accusing PwC of not informing it of the Feilding closure.

But receivers met with Manawatu District Council as soon they took control of the group, Fisk said.

Cairns' contract with the council was supposed to end on August 31, but receivers extended it to help the council tide things over until the new contractors started.

"We had meetings with them to discuss how long we could carry on for.

"We said we were going through a sales process, so we couldn't make guarantees [on how long Cairns would run the transfer station].

"They were keen for us to run it until they could get a new contractor in place."

When PwC got buyers for the equipment, the receivers were unable to keep running the transfer stations.

"We tried to make contact with three different people at council before closing, to let them know we were closing, but we didn't get calls back."

Manawatu District Council assets group manager Hamish Waugh said the council knew the receivers would have to close the facility when some of the major equipment was sold.

There was a "bit of to-ing and fro-ing" about the handover, and the council was relying on hearing from the receivers about when that was likely to happen.

Waugh said he could not comment on why the receivers were unable to get hold of the council staff.

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The Feilding transfer station was closed on Monday last week, but was reopened the next day.

- Manawatu Standard

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