When Tasmanian-based mining and civil construction company Jemrok went into liquidation last week 42 staff from the Cobar branch lost their jobs.
Among them was Cobar branch manager Peter Patton and his wife Molly who said they were shocked and very upset at how the whole matter had been handled.
The pair were devastated to see the business Mr Patton has managed and helped to grow over the past two years, a business that had gone from seven employees to a thriving, viable business of 42 staff, torn apart.
Mr Patton said Jemrok Cobar employees were advised on February 28 by an administrator that the company was to go into liquidation and would re-emerge as a new company and that they were not to be concerned.
He said it was however a different story when the liquidators arrived last Monday to begin a forensic audit of the business.
“All staff were terminated by email late Tuesday night, immediately also some staff members were sent a letter of intent for the new company.
“There has been no Head Office representative present or any support from Head Office to help guide us through this,” Mr Patton said.
“The staff morale and mental health effects began to take its toll when we all realised we were in serious trouble,” Mrs Patton said.
Mr Patton said staff were given an option to sign over to the new company.
He said they were wary as the same people were going to be running the new company, a feeling shared by many local businesses affected by Jemrok’s collapse.
“Many suppliers have been left unpaid, mum and dad local businesses owed a lot of money, this did not sit well with us,” Mr Patton said.
The staff also had not been paid for a month.
Mrs Patton said many of the staff found themselves under financial duress and were not able to pay their rent, home loans, car and credit card repayments.
“And for some, putting food on the table will not be possible,” she said.
“We have had some support from the Rotary Club with food packs and in-kind, and for some staff, but this will be an ongoing issue until staff get paid next,” Mrs Patton said.
“We have found this very hard to take, to see the team torn apart and left this way when they have offered such wonderful service to the local communities in the area.”
The Pattons personally tried to get a bank loan to continue the business however their credit rating had been affected by the business closure.
“We have been fortunate that staff realise we were not behind the demise of Jemrok Cobar and have been supported by staff throughout this tough time,” Mrs Patton said.
“Many have come to visit with us at our home over the last two weeks checking on us which has been fantastic.”
Mr Patton last week gained employment with Driveline Services (who were one of Jemrok’s biggest creditors), and has also helped to secure 10 jobs with Driveline for some of his previous staff.
“We sincerely hope that during this time we would have continued support from local business and the mine sites we dealt with to ensure that all staff affected by the Jemrok liquidation will find work here in Cobar,” Mr Patton said.
“The local mining contractors, mine sites and our regular customers have been in the majority supportive of the expansion of Driveline Services into Cobar and Broken Hill.
“The mines adversely affected by the demise of Jemrok will be the focus of the Driveline Services management to build trust and secure supply to their operations,” he said.
“We really wanted people to know that Driveline is not affiliated with Jemrok, that it hasn’t just had a name change. It’s a totally different business,” Mrs Patton said.