Early childhood educators in Oakey were this week given less than three hours’ notice that they would lose their jobs and the Cuddly Bears centre they worked at would close down that same day.
The closure has now raised concerns that former employees will not be able to access their pay, entitlements, and even their belongings.
Former employee and United Voice Queensland member Gabrielle Frelek was devastated by the sudden closure, which has left her and close to 20 of her colleagues without a job.
“I found out the centre was closing when a parent called me to ask what was going on. She had received an email at 3pm saying that Cuddly Bears was closing down at 6pm that same day,” Ms Frelek said.
“I’ve tried to contact the centre management, but they’ve referred me to liquidators. The liquidators say they don’t know anything about it,” she said.
“We don’t know how much in entitlements we’re owed, and we can’t even access the centre to collect our belongings.
“It’s devastating for the educators, the parents and the whole community.”
United Voice Toowoomba regional organiser Chad Maxwell said the way the situation had been handled by centre management was disgraceful.
“I have been in Oakey today and spoken with our members who worked at the centre to offer them our full support,” Mr Maxwell said.
“We are only now starting to get the picture that the centre has been ripping off its employees for some time now, potentially committing wage theft by not paying super and other entitlements.
“This is not good enough for our local educators, who work so hard to educate and care for local children, to be treated this way.
“United Voice Queensland will be assisting our members to do everything possible to recover this wage theft and entitlements, and hold this dodgy employer to account.”