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  Issue No 2 Official Organ of LaborNet 26 February 1999  





Union Interpreter Translates The Word “Exploit”

By HT Lee, CFMEU Construction Division

The CFMEU has used an interpreter to help uncover underpayment of Chinese construction workers on a major Sydney development.

Ten stonemasons working for a subcontractor on the $60 million George Street upgrade in Sydney's CBD have recovered more than $60,000 in wages, overtime and superannuation as a result of the intervention.

The building union was notified after State MLA John Watkins spotted the ten working without safety equipment. When he approached them, Watkins realised they were unable to speak English and called the union in.

CFMEU State Secretary Andrew Ferguson called in a Chinese-speaking member of the union to quiz the workers on their pay and conditions and found gross breaches of the award rates.

The union immediately closed the site and sought talks with the principle contractors who agreed to take over the job from the subcontractor, who ceased trading when the concerns came to light.

Ferguson says the use of workers without the English language skills to understand their rights was a major concern to the union.

"Migrant workers are often exploited by unscrupulous bosses who put the workers and the general public at risk," he said.

"This not only rips off the actual workers, it also undercuts the honest sub-contractors who are doing the right thing by their workers."

By publicising this case, particularly in the Chinese-language press, the CFMEU hopes to raise awareness of industrial rights amongst migrant workers.


*   View entire issue - print all of the articles!

*   Issue 2 contents

In this issue
*  Interview: Checking the Spellar
We talk to a former union official who is now a minister in the Blair Government about the difficult relationship between New Labour and the labour movement.
*  Unions: Working It Out
NSW trade unions have embraced a movement-wide campaign to deal with the vexed issue of ensuring workers have a life.
*  History: Remembering The Eveleigh Railway Workshops
The Eveleigh railway yards have a rich history which your average commuter would never imagine.
*  Review: Opening Tanner's Australia
Lindsay Tanner's new book offers a frank and forthright view of the future for Australia.
*  Campaign Diary: Carr And The Unions
No-one would accuse the Premier and the labour movement of being bossum buddies, but their fortunes are inextricably linked.

»  Revealed: Reith Defies Own Pollster To Bash Unions
»  What's Going Down at Gordonstone?
»  VSU To Stop The Music
»  Employment Advocate Dines Out, But Not A Sausage For Workers
»  Union Interpreter Translates The Word “Exploit”
»  How Much Can A Koala Bear?
»  Botsman Shifts North To Tame The Rednecks

»  Guest Report
»  Sport
»  Trades Hall
»  Piers Watch

Letters to the editor
»  No Fan of Piers
»  Don't Be Glib
»  EMILY's List International Women's Day bash

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