Workplace news By Elissa Doherty
A Melbourne boss has stunned his staff by giving them a staggering $15 million gift -- the ultimate pay-off for their hard work and loyalty.
Workers at bus company Grenda couldn't believe their good fortune when surprise bonuses averaging $8,500 were paid into their accounts - with some staff receiving as much as $30,000.
Family-owned Grenda Corporation recently sold off its transit operations after 66 years and decided to pour a chunk of the profits into the remarkable thank-you gesture.
Patriarch Ken Grenda, 79, and sons Geoff and Scott, have been dubbed Australia's most generous bosses after rewarding 1,800 staff from drivers to senior executives, for contributing to the company's success. Some wept while others rang their banks thinking there might be an error.
Mr Grenda, the major shareholder, modestly played down the "best boss" moniker, instead paying tribute to his staff.
"A business is only as good as its people, and our people are fantastic," he said. "This is to recognise that. We have had people here who are second generation, and one fellow in the same job for 52 years.
"We have grown from just four bus routes in Dandenong in 1945 to operating 1300 buses in Melbourne, Adelaide and Perth. You only get there if you have good people."
The family has been swamped with about 100 emails and countless phone calls of thanks from staff, who will all keep their jobs under the new owners.
Mr Grenda, who was awarded an AM for his services to the bus industry, said the gratitude was humbling.
"The response has been pretty fantastic," he said. "People said all sorts of things. One said they had a huge amount of bills and you have suddenly got me out of a hole."
The bonuses were paid in various amounts based on years of service and position.
Staff who had worked with Grenda for three months or more pocketed anywhere from about $1,000 to $30,000 before tax.
The company last year sold its transit operations to Melbourne operator Ventura for about $400 million.
Grenda is also Australia's largest bus maker building about 600 buses a year.
It expects to settle on the sale of the bus building business Volgren to a Brazilian company tomorrow.
Grenda bus driver Heath, with the company for just 10 months, received less than the average bonus, but was dumbfounded by his windfall of around $850.
"Some employees were calling their banks assuming it was an error," he said. "Good bosses are hard to find and Ken was a very good boss, one of a kind."