Sacked Focus Press staff angry as print firm sinks

Printing employees Luke Teixeira, Jake Gonzalez and David Whitehouse meet at the Ribbonwood Centre following the collapse of Focus Press.Picture: GREG TOTMAN

Printing employees Luke Teixeira, Jake Gonzalez and David Whitehouse meet at the Ribbonwood Centre following the collapse of Focus Press.Picture: GREG TOTMAN

Wollongong printing business Focus Press has been placed into liquidation following the closure of its plant.

Sydney-based accountants Holzman Associates confirmed they were appointed liquidators on April 29.

Liquidator Manfred Holzman said financial information was being collated to find out how much was owed to workers.

He said an offer had been tabled for the business, and creditors would meet in the week starting May 12.

"We'll be providing info to employees next week as to their entitlements according to company records, which will enable them to lodge claims with the Fair Entitlements Guarantee scheme," Mr Holzman said.

"I'd like to see them paid as soon as possible - that's my main concern."

On Thursday, workers met with representatives of the Department of Employment, Centrelink and other agencies at Dapto to hear about retraining and government assistance after more than 40 were sacked from the Wollongong plant.

The Mercury was barred from the meeting against the wishes of Focus workers, but many spoke afterwards of their confusion and sadness.

"The people today offered us help finding another job, but haven't done anything about our apprenticeships," said 19-year-old Jake Gonzalez.

One of many locals hired after a $6.1-million government grant to Focus in 2012, Mr Gonzalez said questions were raised over the grant considering the sackings.

"They told us the government wants the money back after liquidation," Mr Gonzalez said.

David Whitehouse, 51, said workers had not received separation certificates which qualified them for welfare payments.

"Everyone is shattered," he said.

Workers said Focus had been advertising positions until recently, and a group of new employees arrived at the plant on Monday without being informed of the company's troubles.

"We've had to find out everything online - that the company was being sold, who bought it," Mr Gonzalez said.

"Nobody told us anything."

Employees also spoke of not being paid the full amount they were owed in their last pay packet.

They were told a handful of jobs might be available at local printers, but many are resigned to finding other jobs.

"I just want to get my money and get out of the industry," one worker said.

Smartphone
Tablet - Narrow
Tablet - Wide
Desktop