It was long coming, but today it has been confirmed that Ajax Engineered Fasteners are now going into receivership. Ajax administrator PricewaterhouseCoopers said negotiations between Ajax owners, Allen Capital, and interested receivers had stopped overnight, however a conclusion to the talks was to be finalized by now.
However Unions last night had already named the receiver as KordaMentha. Once a receiver has been appointed, the company’s 180-plus workers will be stood down. Australian Workers Union official Cesar Melhem said staff held a stopwork meeting this morning.
Ajax workers want an upfront agreement guaranteeing them around $12 million in entitlements. It is still unknown whether or not the stand down is permanent or temporary, and much of this uncertainty sits on the shoulders of Holden and Ford and their need for Ajax parts. There is a possibility that another deal could be struck with the car makers to keep the company operating.
Ajax supplies nuts and bolts for use in engine, driveline, vehicle assembly and brake systems to Ford and Holden. It is a division of Global Engineered Fasteners (GEF) and was placed in voluntary administration on August 7 this year. Ford said the situation was not affecting supplies at this stage, but it only had enough stock to last a fortnight.
“We’ll wait and see what happens in the meantime,” a Ford spokeswoman said.
Australian Workers Union national secretary Bill Shorten today labeled the car companies as arrogant and also hinted that they may have hindered Ajax’s rescue process.
“Late yesterday it had become clear that the big car companies are making life difficult for this supplier of the bolts, The company will likely be in receivership as we speak right now. The car companies … are dragging their feet, they are not making it easy for a new buyer to buy the company because they won’t guarantee to buy the bolts from this company in the future.” Mr Shorten said.
Mr Shorten called on the major car companies to not take a “short-term view” of Ajax.
“Sometimes big car companies do have a responsibility to look after the people who supply them,” he said.
It should be interesting to see what happens once Ford and Holden run out of Ajax parts, Holden has said in the past that it is able to find some of the critical parts from other GM plants worldwide, but I am sure having them made here in Australia insures much better production.