ADMINISTRATION: W.E.Smith produces heat exchange equipment for the mining and energy sectors.
ADMINISTRATION: W.E.Smith produces heat exchange equipment for the mining and energy sectors. Rob Wright

Workers short-changed salaries and super

A NUMBER of employees at manufacturing firm W.E. Smith Engineering are claiming they have gone without salaries for four weeks.

The Advocate has been told thousands of dollars in wages has been unpaid at the company's Boambee base, with employees also failing to receive superannuation entitlements.

One employee said unpaid wages had been "an ongoing issue" since the company entered voluntary administration earlier this year - claims backed by the Australian Manufacturing Workers' Union.

In May, it was announced a deal with KPL Group had enabled the 83-year-old business to remain open and continue to employ its 101 full-time employees.

But the employee said despite ongoing work at the manufacturing base, the company was not honouring his wages and entitlements.

"I'm owed four weeks in wages and six to seven months in superannuation," he said.

"We want to do everything we can for the company but we're at the stage now where we don't know what to do.

"A lot of us (employees) have families and as you can imagine the morale at the moment is pretty low."

W.E. Smith director Michael Mutch said a payment to employees had been made last week but would not confirm full wages and entitlements had been issued.

Speaking to the Advocate, Mr Mutch remained confident of the company's future on the Coffs Coast.

"We've come out of the deed of company arrangement on the eighth of September and that's a positive step," he said.

"Investors saw the advantages of keeping the company open and each and every one of our clients has stuck with us through the administration process, which shows their confidence in the company."

Australian Manufacturing Workers' Union industrial officer Todd Nickle has consulted with affected employees.

"There are around 80 staff members employed under the enterprise bargaining agreement who are owed their wages," Mr Nickle said.

"This has been ongoing and people are taking leave without pay, some are getting other jobs to get themselves across the line - a lot of the guys are at their wit's end.

"Employment is critical in Coffs and our delegates (the employees) are counting on things pulling through."

Both the employee and Mr Nickle said payments for one week's wages had been issued in the last week but had not been informed when their next pay cheques could be expected.



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