Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Project 365 Day 34 (Tue 3 Feb 09)

I was pleased to see Sam Kekovich give Eddy Groves the 2009 unAustralian of the Year award. And there's no doubt 'Fast' Eddy has earned that title as he stands in line with ABC Childcare workers with his hand out for $3.3m in unpaid wages, holiday pay and long service leave. Mind you every other childcare worker is asking for a paltry $2,000 each out of the $33m owed to staff!

The personal side for our family in this fiasco is that Wini, who works for ABC, is one of the childcare workers asking for her staff entitlements.

The ABC logo from Wini's t-shirt.

I wasn't as observant as I should have been and it was a surprise in early November when I heard parts of ABC would be placed into voluntary administration. I'd noticed ABC was suspended from trading back in July 2008 and the sacking in September of Eddy Groves, its Chief Executive Officer. But noticing something isn't the same as actually taking it in and understanding it, and it's certainly taught me to be more vigilant.

I was definitely more observant in December when the administrator announced that around 740 centres would stay open and a further 250 centres, of which Wini's centre is one, would stay open only until the end of March because of an injection of cash from the federal government. It's not an easy thing to live with and it's definitely on Wini's mind as she lives with the uncertainty for herself and the kids she looks after every day.

Somehow it would be 'easier' or more understandable if ABC's problems were a sympton of the economic downturn. But that's definitely not the case. From what I've read, Eddy Groves, who started up the franchise 20 years ago, has not only been 'creative' with the books but also used ABC as his personal cash cow.

Earning the unAustralian of the Year award doesn't even come close to what he actually deserves. I can't see him as any different to Alan Bond of the 1980s, and for Fast Eddy to be walking the streets with the nerve to ask for 'outstanding' money is the best proof around that the legal system is not structured appropriately to deal with white collar crime.

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