Worker milked dry
A FORMER Toora milk factory worker who let his bosses use his ABN, is owed more than $10,000 and is being chased by creditors for thousands more.
Randy Cowan, the first worker on the site, said he agreed to the deal with ViPlus Dairy sometime in August 2012. Although the company had an ABN by August 30, Mr Cowan said ViPlus Dairy boss Daijan Li claimed he was still waiting on one.
Mr Cowan said Mr Li continued using his ABN right up until December of that year. Mr Cowan fears the ABN may also have been used in more recent times. He left the company on December 16, 2012, but says he has received bills from companies for work that took place when he was no longer there.
On July 18 he took ViPlus Dairy to VCAT, claiming $7,740.71 in unpaid wages (the extra money Mr Cowan is seeking comes from legal fees, tax bills and interest). While the VCAT case went in his favour, Mr Cowan, like many others, continues to wait.
“I’m being chased by creditors because my name has been used. It’s turned into one hell of a nightmare for me and my family. What’s taken place has put strain on my relationships,” he said.
“It’s put stress on everything – relationships, finances. Last Christmas I had no money left. I paid all the contractors out. For a guy like me, who lives in the town and has an ABN for little jobs, it’s been a tough thing.
“I’ve also had to deal with solicitors’ letters and all the other stuff that goes with it.”
Another worker said he was offered a similar deal on his ABN, but declined.
Mr Cowan showed The Star a recent letter from a company demanding more than $17,000. He said he had received a string of others too, along with tax bills for the extra money being put through his ABN.
Meanwhile another worker said he is being contacted regularly by a power company, which is threatening to turn off electricity to the factory. He does not know how, but says his name had somehow ended up on the bill – hence being the power company’s point of contact.
Mr Cowan was among a group of creditors who met with secretary of the Gippsland Trades and Labour Council John Parker in Toora last Wednesday. Ire has continued to rise amongst the group, who feel they have been continually ignored.
Mr Parker told former workers and business people he had met with ViPlus Dairy, demanding the company pay those still owed money.
“There’s no question about the superannuation. If you don’t pay workers under the act, I don’t have to chase you. All we have to do is get our accountants to send letters into the taxation department and they’ll chase it.”
Mr Parker said people had been paid in an ad hoc fashion, with some receiving money, while others got nothing.
At the end of the meeting, Mr Parker gathered a list of names and details from those still owed money. He said he was still hopeful the business could get started.
Questions submitted to ViPlus Dairy director Leon Chen pertaining to Mr Cowan’s claims went unanswered.
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