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Forno pushes crackdown as 1st Fleet employee losses top $4m

Union wants authorities to get tougher on companies that fall behind on superannuation payments

By Brad Gardner | June 21, 2012

The head of the NSW trucking union is pushing for a crackdown on companies that fall behind on superannuation payments, as employee losses from the demise of 1st Fleet top $4 million.

Transport Workers Union NSW Secretary Wayne Forno (pictured) believes not enough is being done to make sure companies are complying with their superannuation obligations.

An investigation by deVries Tayeh into the running of 1st Fleet, which went under last month, has discovered employees are owed more than $1.4 million in superannuation but are expected to get none of it once the company is liquidated.

DeVries Tayeh’s investigation has also revealed employees are owed more than $2.6 million in wages, holiday pay and long service leave.

“There’s got to be, quite frankly, more punitive measures brought onto companies that don’t pay their superannuation,” Forno says.

He wants a specialised taskforce set up inside the Australian Taxation Office (ATO) focused solely on hounding businesses that fall behind.

Forno says a dedicated team operated in the 1990s but was absorbed into the ATO’s day-to-day operations in 1997.

“My understanding is that there’s no dedicated roles for the taxation officer other than the normal inspectors that go around doing other things as well,” he says.

Forno says 1st Fleet fell behind on its superannuation payments as far back as four years ago. He says the union had to continually remind the company to pay.

“It was on and off, on and off. That to me is the first sign of a company in distress,” he says.

DeVries Tayeh says employees are owed $545,000 in wages, just over $1.2 million in holiday pay and $909,014 in long service leave.

All entitlements are covered under the Federal Government’s General Employee Entitlements and Redundancy Scheme (GEERS). The scheme does not cover superannuation.

DeVries Tayeh is now conducting a detailed investigation into the running of the business. Forno says any form of misconduct should be acted upon.

“If it is good enough for our drivers to lose their livelihoods, it’s good enough for 1st Fleet management to be held to account,” he says.

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