Australian boss gives away cars, vacations for Christmas

Saturday, November 20, 2010

SYDNEY - Christmas came early for workers at an Australian nickel refinery this weekend as their boss handed out 55 Mercedes cars and 700 overseas holidays as a surprise bonus.

Two years ago the Townsville mining firm Queensland Nickel was losing $10 million a month and in danger of closing.

Then mining billionaire Clive Palmer bought the ailing firm and with the help of staff turned it around to make a $100-million profit this year.

On Friday night, Palmer threw a $2-million party for the 1,500 staff who’d missed out on getting a car.

Long-serving workers who had contributed most to the turnaround got keys to a new Mercedes B130 valued at $50,000.

“Too many people in Australian industries do not appreciate the average person working for them,” Palmer told Brisbane’s Courier Mail newspaper.

“We want our workforce to be happy and know they’ve got a good future and are well respected.”

Executive assistant Tanya Godfrey, 39, who has worked at the refinery for 13 years, was the first to be handed the keys to her new Mercedes.

“This is totally unbelievable,” said the mother-of-three, who until Friday drove an old four-wheel-drive. “He is better than Santa Claus. It makes me want to put in 120 percent.”

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