Member for Maitland Jenny Aitchison has refuted claims by former Truegain employees that her election campaign helped contribute to the company’s demise.
Mrs Aitchison was taken aback this week after learning the former workers said her anti-stink election campaign “made the situation at Truegain worse”.
She told Fairfax Media that at no time did she name individual companies when addressing the Rutherford stink issue and that she had listened and worked for residents, workers and businesses who had been living with the smell for up to 20 years.
Truegain shut its doors last week, leaving angry workers owed money and an environmental legacy of toxic materials including the firefighting foams at the heart of the Williamtown RAAF controversy.
Owner Rob Pullinger said on Monday he had no choice but to put Truegain and another business that operates from the site, Australian Waste Oil Refineries, into the hands of insolvency experts.
Employees told Fairfax Media they were the meat in the sandwich and worked within the regulations with what equipment they were given.
“There were a multitude of problems at the site and we did the job as best we could. Mrs Aitchison made it worse and said nothing to help the workers,” said one former employee who did not want to be identified.
Mrs Aitchison said the stink has been a serious and ongoing concern for the community including workers in the industrial estate.
“At its worst, the Rutherford stink resulted in an ambulance having to attend another workplace in the area due to staff being overcome by fumes.
“I will continue to hold the EPA and other government agencies accountable for their responsibility to keep everyone in our community, including residents and workers safe from pollution,” Mrs Aitchison said.
“I am always concerned about the payment of wages, super and other liabilities owned to workers impacted by company closures. There is no excuse for not paying employee entitlements.
“NSW Labor will be watching to ensure that every step is taken by the government to make this company meet its liabilities to employees,” she said.
Mrs Aitchison has spoken to the Australian Workers’ Union organiser who is assisting affected employees and offered her support for all workers in their claims to receive their due entitlements.