Double blow for Morwell family in crisis

THE last two years have been a roller-coaster ride for the Monahan family of Morwell.

While they have started a family and had two young sons during the time, Dylan and Kirsten Monahan have had to cope with losing their jobs through redundancy – most recently, with Mr Monahan being informed the Morwell office of CGU Insurance would be closed on 8 May.

His wife Kirsten was previously on maternity leave at the Telstra call centre in Moe when the closure occurred, resulting in the loss of 114 jobs, one of them hers.

“This news has blown our lives apart,” Mr Monahan told The Express on Friday.

“We thought things were looking up; I was under the impression I was going to be promoted, we were looking at buying a house…now we’ll have to put in a notice to vacate our home and move back in with my parents, we have two babies, and (with me) as the sole breadwinner now unemployed, life is going in the opposite direction to what we imagined,” Mr Monahan said.

“With the redundancy payments, we could survive a couple of months, but then we would have nothing left.”

Mr Monahan, who was employed as an administrative officer at CGU Morwell for four years, said he and six others who had lost their jobs did not see the blow coming.

“I think it all boils down to a ruthless business decision and budget cuts,” he said.

On 8 May, the employees were called into a meeting, when they were told there would be “a surprise” for them.

They were then informed of the bad news by state manager Jen Mitchell, who allegedly told staff the closure was due to “staff retention challenges” over the years.

Mr Monahan said that “did not make sense” as most of the staff had worked there for 10 years or more.

“There were 10 roles at the office with seven filled; we were under the impression remaining staff would move up in the ladder and other positions would be back-filled,” he said.

“We have been offered to be redeployed, and have been given a retrenchment quote of the bare minimum.

“But we don’t want to move away from this area because this is where all our family are; it would be social suicide moving to Melbourne where rent will be even more expensive.

“I don’t have any more confidence in the company caring about their regional offices.”

Mr Monahan said this was a sad situation given most of the people in the company had genuinely loved their jobs and maintained strong working relationships with their clients.

“I imagine there will be many angry people out there after hearing about this,” he said, adding he was in the midst of actively seeking employment.

Meanwhile, a CGU Insurance spokesperson said the Morwell office closure was part of a move to a “new, more centralised business model”, adding it would be closed within the next two weeks.

The spokesperson said its Traralgon office would also be closing between now and the end of the year, although it was still open at the moment.

“Our Morwell office managed workers compensation claims, and these claims will now be managed from Melbourne,” the spokesperson said.

“These claims are managed by telephone, so there will be no impact on customer service levels as a result of the Morwell office closing.

“We will continue to have a workers compensation account manager and business development managers based in Gippsland and we remain committed to the region.”

As part of CGU’s restructuring exercise, an undisclosed number of regional offices will be closed.