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New struggle for axed fun park stalwarts

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New struggle for axed fun park stalwarts By Jim O'Rourke April 25, 2004 The Sun-Herald The more than 400 workers who will lose their jobs when the Wonderland Sydney amusement park closes tomorrow are struggling to find new work. Most of the employees are young and had been working as long-term casuals at the Eastern Creek park. A large number of casuals - those with less than three years' service - missed out on redundancy packages, even though Wonderland is being sold for more than $50 million, Liquor Hospitality and Miscellaneous Workers Union state secretary Annie Owens said yesterday. There are not a lot of similar jobs up for grabs in Sydney, she said. The sale comes in a difficult time for fun parks with the closure of Old Sydney Town, the Fox Studios Backlot and Sega World at Darling Harbour in recent years. Only the reopening of Luna Park at Milsons Point provided theme park job opportunities, but Ms Owns said she understood only a handful of Wonderland workers had been able to secure work there. Earlier this year, Wonderland's Malaysian-based owner, Sunway City Berhad, announced it was selling the 58-hectacre property for $52.5 million after 19 years in the city's western suburbs. Wonderland was bought by ING Industrial Fund and its joint-venture partner, privately owned construction company the PacLib Group. They will turn the site into an industrial estate with access to the M4 Motorway and the proposed M7. Sunway City said it was forced to sell because Wonderland was no longer "commercially viable", due to falling patronage caused by the September 11 terror attacks, the Bali bombings, SARS and the collapses of insurance giant HIH and Ansett. It also blamed the Asian bird flu outbreak. After the union took the matter to the Industrial Relations Commission, and a negotiation process, the full-time workers at the park managed to win eight weeks' pay in redundancy packages. But the 270 casuals, some of whom have been working at the park since it opened, had to fight harder and longer. Those who had been working at Wonderland for three years or more received five weeks' pay. The rest of the casuals missed out. Ms Owens criticised management's attitude to the redundancy and severance payouts. "It is our view the company's excuses about why it wanted to sell don't hold water," Ms Owens said. "It simply wanted to make a big bag of money. "The company has a $52.5 million pot of gold so it's not a big ask for it to reach into its pocket and share some of it with the workforce, many of whom have been there for 19 years. "A lot of our members are battlers, single parents, young people buying their first homes." The union did concede management is assisting some workers with training for work in the hospitality industry, and is helping them look for new jobs. But Ms Owens said job vacancies in hospitality are not high in the western suburbs

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Reading stuff like that really gets you down. I feel so sorry for those employees. It's obvious Sunway treated them like crap and they had no choice but to take it because Sydney is not a place of leisure. :mad: Anyway, good luck to them and Sunway, you truly deserve bankruptcy but I know you won't get it. grrrr

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