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Resources employer pays money owed to axed workers

WBHO workers
WBHO workers

A foreign-backed mining services company will meet its financial obligations to former employees.

One of WBHO Australia’s failed subsidiaries recently agreed to pay full entitlements owed to hundreds of workers, who were ordered to immediately remove work tools and equipment from worksites across Australia without notice.

Deloitte voluntary administrators Sal Algeri, Jason Tracy, Matt Donnelly and David Orr successfully sold six Probuild Group sites to Roberts Co. This generated enough revenue to draft a repayment plan, which creditors have “overwhelmingly” approved. Probuild is one of 18 WBHO entities that collapsed and became insolvent back in March 2022.

South Africa-headquartered WBHO Construction’s deed of company arrangement (DOCA) involves distributing $16 million among roughly 250 workers. This is promised to remove the need to liquidate the business and reduce returns for creditors.

“This was a great result for creditors and the culmination of the hard work of all the stakeholders,” Algeri said according to News Limited.

“Within 10 weeks following the signing of the DOCA we will be making dividend distributions to employees … [and] we will close the books on the employees in a few months.”

Administrators revealed Probuild still owes more than $347M. Minor creditors will only be compensated between 50 and 71 cents per dollar owed. However, major creditors will only receive between 3.9 and 24.6 cents in the dollar.

WBHO delivers resources infrastructure projects in the Goldfields, Pilbara and South West regions. Its specialties include earthworks, tailings storage, evaporation ponds, run of mine walls, steel arch tunnels, drainage, haul roads, aviation infrastructure, and mine site rehabilitation.

The group also owns Monaco Hickey and other construction and project management businesses. Together they employ about 750 people across Queensland, New South Wales, Victoria and Western Australia.

The Australian division collapsed after WBHO headquarters withdrew financial support due to the Federal Government’s “hard-line approach” to the pandemic and economy.

“The impact of lockdown restrictions … have significantly reduced demand and delayed the award of new projects,” WBHO said according to the Australian Associated Press.

“The Australian businesses have not been able to complete projects on-time and not been able to recover variation and delay claims, resulting in material losses in the financial period to date.”

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