Magazine of the Socialist Party in Australia

Palmer still owes workers millions

Former Queensland Nickel workers are still waiting to receive what is owed to them, three years after the company entered receivership and they were made redundant.

Left in the lurch when the Townsville nickel refinery was shuttered, the workers are still owed around $7 million in unpaid entitlements.

Clive Palmer, Queensland Nickel’s owner, has come under renewed pressure to square his obligations. He claims to be unable to pay, but during the course of the election campaign he spent $60 million+ on advertising for his United Australia party.

Under pressure because of this record spend on an election campaign, Palmer announced that he would set up a trust fund to compensate the workers, but curiously no payments were planned to be made until after the election.

Adding insult to injury, the workers have been told that if they want their entitlements, they will have to sign a document stating they will not take any further legal action against Palmer. They also have to promise not to make disparaging comments about him or his other business ventures!

Given it has taken three years and an election get Palmer to even look at paying his debts, the workers are justifiably still worried that they will be duded.

While they wait for $7 million, they know that over the two years prior to Queensland Nickel’s closure, the company gave around $21 million to Palmer’s former vanity project, the Palmer United Party.

This whole debacle shows how little regard wealthy capitalists like Palmer have toward their workers. If these workers had done so much as steal a loaf of bread from a corner store they would have been charged and dragged before the courts.

Capitalists like Palmer however are able to play by different rules. They can steal millions from working people, yet they are still allowed to continue to run other businesses, and even run for parliament.

The rich are able to use their wealth and power to stall, bulldoze and silence working people. It’s a rotten system and it needs to be changed.

By Ben McIntyre