A SUPREME Court trial seeking redundancy pay for hundreds of Empire Rubber Bendigo workers began this week - seven years after the company went into liquidation.
The trial before Justice Sloss began on Monday in the Supreme Court of Victoria between Fitzgerald and Humphris, as trustees for the former employees of Huon Corporation (owner of Empire Rubber) versus CBL Insurance.
National Union of Workers assistant secretary Gary Maas said the trial was listed to run for five days.
Mr Maas said that after the collapse of Empire Rubber in 2006, owned by Huon Corporation, employees were owed about $19.1 million in entitlements.
Since then $14.1m had been paid but members were still owed the remaining 30% in entitlements, he said - about $5 million for 300 former Bendigo and Frankston employees.
The Supreme Court dispute centres on an insurance bond signed by Huon Corporation and underwritten by CBL Insurance - days before Empire Rubber's 2006 collapse - to protect employee entitlements in the event that the company could not meet its redundancy obligations.
Mr Maas said litigation funding had allowed this case to proceed by helping union members who could not afford the high cost of litigation themselves. He said CBL had denied the claim from the beginning.
"If the case is won, NUW members could expect 100% of their entitlements," Mr Maas said
"However, CBL continues to vigorously defend the matter with no settlement to date.
"Any further payments that would be payable to members would be made after and only upon a win or settlement of the case. If the trial is run to completion a decision would be expected in the near future."