'Slaughtered' in court

IT might have taken close to three years but the Federal Court of Australia has found what most in the Clarence Valley suspected all along - Stuart Ramsey engaged in deceitful conduct when his South Grafton abattoir effectively sacked 11 workers without paying their entitlements just before Christmas 2008.

In a strongly worded 47-page document, Judge J Buchanan described the arrangement Mr Ramsey had set up through Ramsey Food Processing as a sham.

>> Click here for the court's full findings.

In effect, the court found Mr Ramsey and his company Ramsey Food Processing estab- lished shelf labour-hire companies and used them as a mech- anism to hire and fire who he wanted, while avoiding paying entitlements.

It found that when the company wanted to get rid of employees without paying entitlements, it moved the employees it wanted to retain into another labour hire company then starved the original company of funds. That company would then become insolvent, leaving neither money to pay the employees nor money to which they were rightly entitled.

That is what the workers claimed when they were sacked and their claims have now been vindicated.

It has not been a great week for Mr Ramsey. Last Thursday his company was found guilty of contempt in the NSW Land and Environment Court.

In that case Justice Sheahan found Ramsey Food Processing failed to carry out an environmental audit of the abattoir's operation and failed to place notices in newspapers to notify the public.

The question of what the future holds for the abattoir and its 200 or so employees now arises.

Some will blame government agencies if the abattoirs runs into financial trouble.

They shouldn't.

Any problems rest with Mr Ramsey alone.

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