MORE than 120 workers in the regional Victorian city of Ballarat face an uncertain future after a machinery foundry went into administration.
The staff at John Valves were told by administrators BDO Kendalls they would not be paid for last week's work.
They were stood down without pay for the next three days.
Australian Workers' Union (AWU) state secretary Cesar Melhem said it was understood the business owed the Australian Taxation Office (ATO) more than $2 million.
"These loyal workers deserve much better than to be told on payday that there is no money in the kitty for them and their families,'' he said.
"We are calling on the Federal Government to see what it can do to ensure employees' entitlements can be paid first up, before the ATO liability.''
Mr Melham hoped the workers' jobs could be retained under a new owner.
"Country Victoria can't afford to lose any more skilled jobs.''