Interview: Baby Bust
Safety: Dust To Dust
Bad Boss: Shaming in Print
National Focus: Work's Cripplin' Us
International: Bulk Bullies
History: The Battle for Kelly's Bush
Economics: Aid, Trade And Oil
Review: The Art Of Work
Poetry: Sew His Lips Together
Saving The Planet
Shaming in Print
They will put the acid on Alan David to front up with $1 million still owed to employees of his last operation, David Graphics, and demand changes to corporate law that would stop employers changing company set-ups to evade their debts.
David Graphics was wound-up last November, owing $9.7 million, more than a million of it to 70 redundant workers who found their super contributions, salary sacrifices and even payments to keep up private medical insurance schemes had vanished into the bowels of the company.
David Graphics went into voluntary administration on November 17, 2003, but just seven days later a new entity, Digital Graphics Communication, emerged onto the Sydney printing scene.
Digital Graphics Communication is owned by Alan David's partner and his daughter. It is managed by John Coates, formerly the manager of its ill-fated predecessor, and employs none other than Alan David, himself, as a consultant.
It began life operating out of the same building, occupied seven days earlier by David Graphics, contracting to the same clients.
Well, when David Graphics went belly-up the only thing of value the administrator could lay his hands on was its "work in progress". This was sold for $350,000, approximately the amount of disappeared super contributions, to none other than Digital Graphics Communication.
The AMWU is kicking up merry hell, demanding changes to corporate law that will prevent directors closing down a business and leaving employees out of pocket, only to open under another guise, minus their debts.
"Accountants call it asset protection but our members have another name for it," AMWU Print Division secretary, Amanda Perkins, told Workers Online.
Fortunately, the story is not one of unmitigated disaster. Its one bright light was the placement of five of David Graphics' six apprentices in other jobs around town where they will be able to complete their time. But that was down to the efforts of AMWU delegates and activists, and had nothing to do with the company.
AMWU secretary, Paul Bastian, is sick of seeing companies going to the wall, taking workers and their families with them.
He is critical of ASIC, the business regulator, which repeatedly tells his members it can do nothing about the disappearance of their monies.
Usually, the regulator declines to take action because, it says, it is insufficiently resourced to pursue company directors.
The AMWU wants a three-pronged change to commercial law to ensure employers meet some of their obligations. It advocates ...
- reversing the onus of proof on directors of companies that go bust, making it encumbent on them to demonstrate they have discharged their responsibilities before being allowed to pursue other directorships
- transferring liabilities to associated entities that continue to trade
- using industry trust funds to protect entitlements as they accrue
Bastian describes as a "nonsense" the current insistence that broke workers, rather than regulators, pursue errant directors through the legal system.
When Metro Shelf went bust last year, taking millions in entitlements, the union's legal advice was that it would have cost upwards of $2 million to pursue that company's directors and, odds were, the process would have taken years.
Alan David has been nominated for the Tony Award, struck to ensure the anti-worker activities of former Workplace Relations Minister are not forgotten.
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