BRUCK TEXTILES: 'It's not a hardship fund, it's a loan,' new owners say

Neville French and Monica French will be struggling financially without a payout from the company. Picture: KYLIE ESLER

Neville French and Monica French will be struggling financially without a payout from the company. Picture: KYLIE ESLER

NEVILLE French thought things were as bad as they could get after Bruck sacked him after nearly 40 years of service.

The cleaner, who was a machine operator before he injured his back, faced the prospect of living from day to day.

But yesterday there was more bad news.

The plant’s new owner, Australian Textile Mills, said its hardship fund for the 60 sacked workers was not a fund but a loan.

Textile Clothing and Footwear Union national secretary Michele O’Neil said the owner had said workers had to prove hardship to access it.

“This is unacceptable,” she said. 

“All 60 workers have experienced hardship since losing their job and not seeing a cent of their entitlements.

“The union believes this money should be a grant and not a loan.

“It is a week since workers were stood down — they literally have no money for food, rent or their mortgage.”

Bruck Textile Technologies, which went into liquidation eight days ago, sacking 60, will re-open on Monday in its new entity with 130 workers.

That’s cold comfort for Mr French, 55, who was one of 1000 workers at the plant when he started there aged 16.

He and the other sacked workers were left without entitlements of $3.8 million when Bruck sold the plant for $1.

“There’s no money coming in and we don’t have much in the bank in the first place,” Mr French said yesterday.

“We are basically living day to day.”

Bruck appeared before a Fair Work Australia commission hearing on Wednesday and was asked to explain how the dismissed workers were selected and the links to their length of service.

For Mr French, it is now a waiting game.

“There’s no money coming in until Centrelink kicks in and there’s no saying when that will be,” he said.

Mr French has applied for the federal government’s Fair Entitlements Guarantee but has been told it could take 10 weeks before he receives anything.

Mr French lives with his wife, Monica, and their younger child, 18.

“My wife does not work as she stayed home to raise the kids,” he said.

“She will now have to start looking for a job.”

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