||Issue No. 294||10 February 2006|
Interview: Court's in Session
Industrial: Whose Choices?
Politics: Peter's Principles
Environment: TINA or Greener?
History: Its Not Just Handshakes and Aprons
International: US Locks out Jose' Bove
Education: No AWA - No Job
Culture: Jesus was a Long-Grass Man
Review: Charlie the Serf
The Locker Room
Belated Merry Whatmas?
The Grinch Who Stole Christmas
I Think Therefore I Scam
A Taxing Answer
Leslie John Turner
Capital Punishment on the Menu
The infamous 'Holy Grail' is one of three Canberra eateries that have been fingered in an IR stink that threatens to become a fullblown diplomatic incident.
Senator Kate Lundy named posh establishments The Holy Grail - the home base of the Canberra polito-ratti -along with Milk and Honey, and Zeffirelli Pizza Restaurant in federal parliament this week.
She said workers, imported from the Philippines, had been underpaid, treated like slaves and subjected to racial vilification.
The issue blew up after the LHMU alleged two guest workers had been locked out of their workplaces after filing complaints. One, it said, was so worried by employer threats that he had taken out an AVO.
Workers Online understands that the treatment of its nationals has prompted the Philippines Embassy to lodge a complaint with the Immigration Department.
The issue arises as the Howard Government opens the way for the mass importation of labour, skilled and unskilled, on terms that undercut negotiated minimums.
Lundy told Parliament a Canberra businessmen had recruited Filipino hospitality workers, last year, and "sold" them to their employers $6000 - $8000 a head.
She said at least 15 imported workers had lodged complaints and some had said the Canberra conditions were the worst they had ever experienced.
The Canberra Times quoted one worker as saying he had been forced to eat food reclaimed from a rubbish bin.
"He repeatedly said to me, 'I paid for you to come to Australia, if you don't work hard enough I will send you back to where you belong," the Times reported.
The LHMU says Canberra businesses have identified chef, Dario De Guzman, as a "ringleader" amongst the guest workers and moved to have him deported.
The row comes hot on the heels of a string of imported labour rorts uncovered by Workers Online in the hospitality, construction and resources sectors.
ACT Chamber of Commerce chief, Chris Peters, has rejected all allegations against the Canberra restaurants. He criticised Lundy for naming the businesses under Parliamentary privilege.
Lundy said she hoped her action would help bring justice to the workers and remind employers who chose to do the wrong thing that they would be challenged.
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