Redundancy backflip good news for former Green Hills Retirement Village cleaners

ANGRY: Graham Cousins and his daughter Christine, who lost her job after her employer's contract was terminated. Picture: Nick Bielby

ANGRY: Graham Cousins and his daughter Christine, who lost her job after her employer's contract was terminated. Picture: Nick Bielby

A cleaning business has backflipped on its refusal to pay redundancies to Maitland employees.

The turnaround came after pressure from the Health Services Union, federal Paterson MP Meryl Swanson and questions from Fairfax Media.

Five cleaners, including a woman with an intellectual disability, were left jobless when Green Hills Retirement Village terminated its agreement with contractor Nationwide Health and Aged Care Services one year early.

The workers appealed to the HSU for help when Nationwide did not offer redundancies and the employees received less than three weeks’ formal notice that they’d be out of work.

Nationwide NSW manager Laurie Neale said it would be “inappropriate for us to comment” when contacted on Wednesday.

Graham Reid, who is executive director of Living Care, which operates the Green Hills facility, said that alleged “compliance concerns” and “staff feedback” were key factors behind the decision to scrap the contract early, after five years.

“I am not going to detail specific instances,” Mr Reid said.

HSU aged care manager Rob Sheehy said the move affected workers at nine facilities.

Mr Sheehy said the employees received a letter from Nationwide on October 24 telling them that they would no longer be required from November 11.

According to Fair Work NSW, an employee who has worked for an organisation for five years or more should receive at least four weeks’ notice if their job is terminated.

“Some contractors have been able to get out of paying redundancy when a contract ends, but this contract didn’t end, it was cancelled,” Mr Sheehy said on Wednesday.

“We believe we have a strong legal argument, let alone a moral argument.”

But Mr Sheehy said on Thursday afternoon that four of the five Green Hills workers had been offered redundancy payments. Further details weren’t available at the time of publication.

Paterson MP Ms Swanson said she met with the workers’ union representative last week and subsequently raised the issue with Labor’s spokespeople for employment and ageing.

“They were very distressed about losing their jobs and not being paid redundancy, so I was pleased to hear today that the union has been able to get the contractor to the table,” Ms Swanson said on Wednesday.

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