||Issue No. 322||01 September 2006|
Justice, Applied Liberally
Interview: Australia’s Most Wanted
Industrial: The Fox and the Contractor
Unions: Industrial Wasteland
International: Two Bob's Worth
Economics: National Interest
Environment: The Real Dinosaur
History: Only In Spain?
Review: Clerk Off
Boss Gives Dad the Finger
In a statement, sighted by Workers Online, a 46-year-old Korean says the employer refused to call an ambulance after four of his fingers were hacked off at work.
Cho Hyun Kwon said he didn't believe his employer had workers compensation cover, required by law.
Cho admitted he was working in Australia illegally but his predicament will spark union calls for rogue employers to face sanctions.
Legal Section 457 visas and illegal immigrants, in industries like building and construction, have been used to hold down Australian wages and conditions.
Evidence about the prevalence of illegal labour was presented to the Cole Royal Commission, as far back as 2002, but it chose to do nothing about it, while recommending harsh sanctions on unions who tried to prevent the workers comp and tax rorts it engendered.
The CFMEU has flagged a campaign for penalties on employers who use illegal workers as cheap labour.
It claims there are more than 50,000 illegal immigrants working in Australia without any protections.
Cho's statement gives a chilling insight into their lives.
He said he lived inside the Bankstown factory where he was required to labour for up to 120 hours a week. He said, for two years, he was paid a flat rate of $10 an hour, with no holidays, sick leave, or super.
"On May 19, this year, all my fingers on my hand were chopped off in a machine," Cho says.
"My boss has refused to pay any wages since the accident. He knew I was illegal but, when I had the accident, he decided to tell the Immigration Department to have me arrested.
"I am desperate."
Workers Online has changed the name of the worker, and omitted the company title, to protect his identity.
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