Staff at Pillar are safe, new owner says

Pillar's office in Coniston.

Pillar's office in Coniston.

The new owner of Pillar Administration has vowed to retain the superannuation provider’s Illawarra operations and says workers’ jobs are protected under existing agreements.

The commitment from global investing firm Mercer comes amid ongoing Public Service Association (PSA) concern for the employees at Pillar’s Coniston-based office.

NSW Treasurer Gladys Berejiklian announced Mercer’s acquisition of Pillar, for $35 million, in December.

As part of the takeover, Mercer agreed to a two-year employment guarantee for award staff at Pillar and committed to keeping the member services operations in the region for a decade.

PSA organiser Tony Heathwood said there was “still no real guarantee for the employees”.

“Member service operations will remain in the Illawarra, but we don’t know what the definition of that is, how many jobs are specifically member services and what might happen to other jobs that aren’t member services,” Mr Heathwood told the Mercury.

A spokeswoman for Mercer said the company acknowledged there had been “a period of uncertainty” for Pillar staff and hoped its acquisition “provides clarity and certainty for many”.

The spokeswoman said the Pillar transaction was accompanied by enabling legislation that included protections for Pillar employees – such as continued arrangements around existing superannuation schemes, continuity of service and ongoing leave entitlements.

“Additionally, Pillar staff should be secure in the knowledge that the Pillar Enterprise Agreement, a three-year agreement approved in October 2016, remains in force,” she said.

Meanwhile, Ms Berejiklian has refuted a union claim that the government had “given away” the business.

Mr Heathwood said Pillar’s sale price of $35 million was $3.5 million less than its balance sheet value.

“This is simply untrue,” Ms Berejiklan told the Mercury

“The price received exceeds retention value.

“As with all NSW government transactions, no transaction will take place unless retention value is exceeded.”

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