Over 1,000 jobs lost and workers locked out as transport group goes under

Employees at national trucking company 1st Fleet arrived at work this morning to find their jobs have been terminated and they have been locked out after the company was placed into voluntary administration.

The company was placed into administration on Anzac Day but as recently as yesterday the company was posting notices on its website stating it was still “business as usual”.

The administrators of the 1st Fleet Group, de Vries Tayeh, said the administrators found out yesterday that 1st Fleet’s line of funding, which had been keeping it afloat, had not been extended.

Antony de Vries, of de Vries Tayeh, told SmartCompany the first that the transport company’s employees knew about the collapse was when they went to work this morning.

“The short line of funding that the business had yesterday was terminated by 1st Fleet’s financiers so we were in a position of no funds to pay for day-to-day expenses,” says de Vries.

“We had no other alternative than to close the doors of the business last night.

De Vries says the funding arrangement was subject to the director of 1st Fleet complying with “a number of requirements” which he was unable to do.

“Once it became possible he was unable to do that we started talking to other trucking operations and we are still talking to them to see whether or not they are interested.

“We are hopeful we might be able to negotiate the sale of some or all of the business and, if that was to happen, the workforce would be likely to be redeployed, but the opportunity for that only remains open for one or two days.

“Stock from customers remains undelivered in some facilities and we are trying to get a handle on that and see if we can make introductions for other companies to have that delivered.”

De Vries Tayeh said it was working closely with the Transport Workers Union to assist 1st Fleet’s workforce in being placed with other employment.

Tony Sheldon, national secretary of the TWU, said in a statement that the closure of 1st Fleet was “a tragedy for the workforce and highlights yet again how major retailers are squeezing the life out of Australian truckies and suppliers.”

“Employees and owner drivers arrived at depots across the country this morning to find the gates were locked, their jobs had vanished and their ability to support their families is now uncertain.”

“Many owner-drivers with 1stFleet have been unpaid for more than eight weeks and they now face an uphill struggle to secure what they are owed from creditors.”

“TWU officials across the country are addressing the workforce this morning and we will be fighting for the rights and entitlements.”

1st Fleet employed around 1,200 employees; about half of those were full-time and half were casual employees.

1st Fleet was founded in 1988, and offers trucking services, along with supply chain, warehousing and recruitment services as well.

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