|Issue No 110||07 September 2001|
Unions Rescue Afghan Worker
By Tara de Boehmler
Unions have helped an Afghani worker - whose limited understanding of Australia's employment laws was ruthlessly exploited by his boss.
The Construction, Forestry, Mining and Energy Union this week won the $17,000 back pay for the migrant building worker whose boss had avoided paying his entitlements.
In the 11 months Afghanistan painter Mohammad Akram (Hazara) worked for his employer, Storm Painting and Decorating, he had not once been paid on time.
He was paid a daily rate - irrespective of how many hours he worked - which was presented to him by cheque at irregular intervals. Eventually the payments lapsed so far behind he had to borrow some $5,000 from friends just so he could afford to feed his young family and pay the rent.
When Mohammad finally approached the CFMEU to find out what his legal entitlements were, the union discovered his employer had never paid him annual leave, loading, rostered days off, sick leave, overtime or any other entitlements. The union approached Mohammad's employer and less than one week later he was presented with a $2,000 cheque. Next week he will be paid the remainder of the $17,000 he is owed.
"Every worker in Australia that is not a union member should join a union now and not just wait until something goes wrong", Mohammad said. "I now realise that unions are here to defend the little person".
CFMEU State Secretary Andrew Ferguson said there was nothing unusual about
Mohammad's case and said it was a "disgrace that so many migrant workers are subjected to this kind treatment when trying to do an honest day's work in Australia".
Labor Council secretary John Robertson says the case highlighted the need for the federal government to provide new arrivals with information on the workplace rights - including their right to join a union.
Interview: Cast Adrift
Ethnic Communities Council chair Salvatore Scevola gives his take on the Tampa saga and the underlying attitudes driving the debate.
Workplace: Coming to Australia
Jagath Banderra recounts his own experience as a new arrival in Australia entering the workforce.
Human Rights: Long Road to Nowhere
Iraqi refugees travel the same tortuous road as Afghans. The refugees on the Tampa have almost certainly endured a similar ordeal.
Immigration: Experience Required
Veronica Apap looks at the many difficulties migrants face in having their skills recognised in Australia.
International: Why Economic Rationalism Isn't
The CFMEUs Phil Davey surveys the wreckage after 10 years of Brazil's Government doing what the free marketeers want.
History: Johnny's Naruan Wet Dream
Rowan Cahill looks at how Australia's preferred refugee dumping ground's history is indelibly linked with our own.
Unions: Getting the Message Out
Caroline Alcorso argues the integration of immigrant workers into the trade union movement has been a central issue in Australia’s post-war labor history.
Work/Time/Life: Driven To The Edge
In the ACTU’S groundbreaking Fifty Families report there is one particularly sobering story. Frank tells how the modern workplace is driving some people to the fatal edge.
Review: Whose Party?
NSW Labor’s century of successes began in 1910, as did the “middle classing” of Labor policy.
Satire: Ethnic Wog Gangs Rape Everyone
People who are white in colour are being raped by people who are not white, an exclusive Chaser investigation found last week.
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