FORMER member for Indi Sophie Mirabella says she is “gutted” at the demise of Bruck Textile Technologies and the loss of 60 jobs at Wangaratta.
Mrs Mirabella has maintained her silence since her defeat at last September’s federal election.
Last Friday it was announced Bruck had been bought by Australian Textile Mills, which announced Bruck would be placed into liquidation.
The company told redundant workers it would not be paying annual leave, long service leave, notice pay or redundancy pay entitlements amounting to an estimated $3.8 million.
The payments are expected to be met under the federal government’s Fair Entitlements Guarantee, but Mrs Mirabella is angry at how the situation has unfolded.
“I am gutted at Bruck’s demise and the loss of 60 jobs,” she said.
“Although workers will get payments as an automatic entitlement, I am disappointed the owners are not paying workers their due entitlements.
“I have an emotional investment in Bruck and its workforce.
“I was very proud as the local member that it was ‘the’ textile manufacturer in Australia.
“The workforce had really worked superbly with management to make it happen.”
Mrs Mirabella’s comments came on the same day the federal government entered the Bruck demise.
Employment Minister Eric Abetz announced his department had referred allegations of companies entering into contrived arrangements to avoid paying employee entitlements to the Australian Security and Investments Commission.
Asked if she spoke with Mr Abetz about Bruck, Mrs Mirabella said: “I maintain contact with former cabinet colleagues, but I will not comment on individual conversations.”
Australian Textile Mills plans to re-invest $8 million into the factory and late last year Bruck announced plans to re-zone part of its Wangaratta factory site, which could result in the cricket oval becoming a residential area.
“I have had a long association with Bruck,” Mrs Mirabella said.
“I met almost monthly with the previous chief executive Alan Williamson, who ran a competitive and successful business.”
Mr Williamson could not be contacted last night.