‘We want our super’: victims of bankrupt director still unpaid

No super: John Burns
No super: John Burns

The bankrupt director of a company liquidated owing almost $400,000 to creditors was previously the principal of a Bartercard franchise in Ballarat which has failed to pay commissions, wages and superannuation to staff, say former employees.

John Damien Burns took up the Bartercard franchise in 2009.

His company Royal Mail Hotel (Ballarat) Pty Ltd was liquidated in March this year, with a $286,000 tax bill owed to the Australian Tax Office.

Bartercard is a business-to-business networking and trade system established in 1991. 

Simply explained, Bartercard allows businesses to exchange goods and services, thus retaining a higher cash flow.

The Courier is not alleging any wrongdoing on the part of Bartercard Australia.

Shannon Moohoek, Kylie Paterson and Kathy Rivett were employed by Burns to pursue accounts with Ballarat and other regional businesses on behalf of his Bartercard Western Victoria franchise.

Each of the women have told The Courier they are owed thousands of dollars in superannuation. 

Ms Moohoek also alleges she is owed unpaid wages and commissions.

In 2010 Ms Paterson issued a letter of demand provided to her by the Fair Work Ombudsman, sighted by The Courier, for $1907 in wages, $2259 in superannuation and $1257 in annual leave.

Burns signed the letter and paid the wages, but has never paid the superannuation or leave to Ms Paterson.

“He never paid our petrol allowance or our trade dollars,” she says.

Shannon Moohoek said she became aware of discrepancies in the the superannuation payments shortly after she started at the franchise in 2012.

She says she is still owed commissions, and her concerns about superannuation began early in her employment.

“It was religious; every couple of months I’d say to him, ‘What’s going on with the super?’, and he‘d say, ‘I’m just trying to get these bills out of the way’, and I’d tell him as an employee my super was not reliant on him being unable to pay his bills,” she says.

Kathy Rivett says is owed over $4500 in superannuation, as well as 400 trade dollars, $2729 accrued leave, and $1180 notice for her redundancy after the business entered ‘a period of financial stress’ in 2010.

Rivett and Paterson say Burns also asked them to go without seven weeks’ pay while he established the business. 

The Courier contacted Bartercard Australia regarding the matter. A spokesperson for the company declined to make a formal comment. 

The Courier also made repeated attempts but was unable to contact John Burns.