Waiting for report: Leitch Pastoral Company owner Dudley Leitch.
Waiting for report: Leitch Pastoral Company owner Dudley Leitch.

Employees missing super

A KILLARNEY meatworker has accused Leitch Pastoral Group of failing to pay him superannuation for the seven months leading up to last Friday’s closure.

The abattoir employee said he had checked his superannuation statements after being stood down last week only to find his employer, Leitch Pastoral Group, had not made any payments since June 2009.

His claim was supported by three colleagues, who also confirmed the group owed them varying amounts of superannuation.

The accusations came on the heels of the group’s announcement last Friday they would extend a shut down at the Killarney Abattoir and Pittsworth Processing Plant indefinitely.

Leitch Pastoral Group owner Dudley Leitch spoke with the Daily News, admitting his company had payroll liabilities, but said he was “not specifically aware” if these related to superannuation.

“But I am aware there have been some accounting and administrative anomalies, which is why we have brought in a business consultant in the form of Grant Thornton,” Mr Leitch said.

“Grant has been investigating the situation at both plants since we suspended kills and is due to report back to me this week.

“He will be advising us on the liabilities, commitments and obligations and how we should address specific issues.”

The Killarney-based employee at the centre of the accusations said several of his workmates had also noticed superannuation discrepancies.

“I’ve called around and I can’t find anyone who has actually been paid super since June last year,” he said.

“I have talked with my superannuation fund and they have referred me on to the Australian Tax Office, who has said they will contact my employer.”

He said after working 18 years at the plant, including 18 months under the Leitch Pastoral Group banner, he now felt “ripped off”.

“The group owes me thousands of dollars in holiday pay, which is frustrating, and now add super to that.”

When Mr Leitch was quizzed as to whether the issue of superannuation entitlements was limited to Killarney, he said management from the abattoir had “had input” into his operations at Pittsworth.

“Some payments may have been overlooked,” Mr Leitch said.

“We will not know for sure until we have Grant Thornton’s report and then we will be able to address concerns.

“Whatever happens, with the assistance of Grant Thornton, we will be looking at our three entities – Killarney Abattoir, Pittsworth Food Processing and Condamine River Meats in great detail.”

Another abattoir employee, who believes the group owes him superannuation, admitted feeling “done over” by his employer.

“Leitch didn’t make us redundant so we can’t claim any concessions with our loans or anything,” he said.

“He hasn’t paid out our holiday pay, which would have helped us through this shutdown.

“Now we find out he owes us thousands in super.”

Another employee described the current situation with the abattoir as: “like a death in the family; it can never go back to what it was.”

A Fair Work Ombudsman spokesman said yesterday they had not received any complaints related to the Killarney Abattoir or Leitch Pastoral Group.

But he said any workers who had not received their full entitlement should contact the Fair Work Infoline on 13 13 94 for advice and assistance.

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