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Overseas W.E. Smith CEO responds following meeting

WRITTEN RESPONSE: W.E. Smith CEO William Van Vliet.
WRITTEN RESPONSE: W.E. Smith CEO William Van Vliet. Trevor Veale

AFTER workers from W.E. Smith met with Cowper MP Luke Hartsuyker today, overseas W.E. Smith CEO William Van Vliet sent sent him a letter.

In the letter, Mr Van Vliet claims the information provided in earlier reports by the Australian Manufacturing Workers' Union is incorrect.

You can read the full letter below:

Dear Mr Hartsuyker MP,

Firstly, I want to apologise to you on behalf of the company for the actions of a number of employees of the company at your office last

Wednesday. To clear up any misunderstanding, the employees of the company are currently on paid leave and such actions were not

authorised by the company. Until very recently the company was known as W E Smith Pty Limited.

I am informed that, prior to the incident at your office:

1.       an ad hoc meeting, organised by members of the AMWU, was held at the gates of the Hamilton Drive property;

2.       at around the time of the meeting a number of signs on the fence of that facility were torn down.

I am also infirmed that after the meeting approximately 30 employees went and intimidated a local business woman at the address where the company has its mail delivered. Such conduct is unacceptable.

I also saw the interview with Mr. Patrick Bayndrian, the AMWU delegate, who claimed that you have not provided any help to the workers. That is simply untrue. You have helped the workers by helping the company obtain a supervised repayment plan for the superannuation and taxes due to the ATO. Your assistance gave the company a chance to recover and for the workers to keep their jobs.

Secondly, let me correct a few other things that the reporters say were sourced from the AMWU:

1.       The company did not put its workers on unpaid leave.  The company put its workers on PAID leave. The paid leave has been extended, on more than one occasion, until 30 January 2017.

2.       There have been weekly reports to the entire staff.  In fact, on Wednesday 25 January (prior to the meeting and other incidents I set out above) I sent an email out to the staff and the AMWU with an update.

I am very disappointed at the recent press reports which contain a number of untrue allegations which have damaged the business and its reputation with its customers, stakeholders and the local community.

There have been a number of other instances where the AMWU has damaged the business of the company including:

1.       the memorandum of understanding between the company and the AMWU, which had previously been working well, was cancelled after a vote in which only AMWU workers voted;

2.       prior to the Christmas break, a long-time customer came by to do an inspection on one of the hyperbaric vessels the company built.

The AMWU workers started to help but after a short period dropped tools and left.  Those workers were ordered back however they refused to work in front of the customer. As a result the customer cancelled the work test, took the unfinished unit away and the work went to a

competitor. The company has been in the process of seeking further funding. I can advise that, amongst other events, the following has already occurred:

1.            The ATO Superannuation Repayment plan you helped arrange is now paid off in full. The company paid an amount of the total remaining sum of $410,000 earlier in the week.

2.            The company has borrowed funds which allowed the company to pay all outstanding Superannuation due employees of approximately $200,000.

3.            The company has paid all wages through to 18 January2017. This has been allocated and is being processed. The Australia day public holiday has delayed these payments being processed.

4.            The company has paid all salary through to 19 January 2017. This has been allocated and is being processed. The Australia day public holiday has delayed these payments being processed.

5.            The company has paid off its obligations under the deed of company arrangement with WE Smith Engineering Pty Limited which had been a burden for the past 2 years.

Additional payments will be made to bring this week's payroll current by the end of the day.

The recent actions by the AMWU and the recent press reports have further damaged the ability of the company to obtain further funding.

I am overseas at present but I am working to rectify the damage that has been caused by these unfortunate recent events.

--

William VanVliet

CEO, W.E. Smith Pty Ltd

Topics:  coffs coast business luke hartsuyker w.e. smith



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