Pillar sold: Illawarra jobs guarantee for two years

Jobs at the Wollongong-based Pillar superannuation funds administration office will be safe for just two years, as the company’s sale was announced yesterday.

Treasurer Gladys Berejiklian on Friday announced the sale, to global investing firm Mercer, for $35 million.

The Treasurer said Mercer had agreed to a two-year employment guarantee for award staff at Pillar, along with remaining the member services operations in the region for a decade.

“Pillar is a major employer in the Illawarra – that is why the Government has secured the commitment of Mercer to maintain and ideally grow Pillar’s operations in the region for at least 10 years,” Ms Berejiklian said.

But the Public Service Association’s industrial manager Blake Stephens said the ten-year guarantee meant little.

“It’s a shame that the Government has to have big business come in and run things that should be run by the public sector,” Mr Stephens said. “But our members are glad that they know where they’re now going.

“They’re having a presence in the region, but they’re cutting jobs while having a minor presence in the region and maximising profits.”

For staff on contracts, the two-year commitment may not apply. Staff would meet next week to work out whose jobs are secure.

Analysts said the sale price was well below the $100 million price tage first discussed when Mercer and its rival the Link group were both in the running to land Pillar.

Bright: Chris Lamont

Bright: Chris Lamont

Illawarra Business Chamber (IBC) Executive Director, Chris Lamont, said the sale confirmed the potential for financial services companies to be located in the region.

“Mercer is one of Australia’s largest actuarial and investment consulting companies and the IBC is encouraging Mercer to consider the benefits of expanding their operations in the region,” he said.

“We want more skilled jobs for the Illawarra and this is another area where the region is well placed to offer competitive solutions.”

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