||Issue No. 332||10 November 2006|
Affairs of State
Interview: Common Ground
Industrial: A Low Act
Unions: The Number of the Least
Politics: The Smoking Gun
Economics: Microcredit, Compulsory Superannuation and Inequality
Environment: Low Voltage
History: The Art of Social Justice
Review: Work’s Unhealthy Appetite
Culture: A Forgotten Poet
Guestworkers Off the Menu
The Immigration Department imposed two and three years on the restaurants in response to a year-long campaign by the LHMU Hospitality Union.
Three of the restaurants are also being prosecuted by the Office of Workplace Services over unpaid wages and breaches of workplace law.
Pangaea, Zefferellis, Holy Grail and Milk and Honey were all caught out underpaying Filipino kitchen workers brought to Australia under the Federal Government's scandal-prone 457 migrant visa scheme.
One of the restaurants had the idea of bringing Filipino chefs to Australia, then drummed up business at the other restaurants and brought the chefs out as a job lot, said LHMU ACT organiser David Bibo.
The Filipinos were paid a gross annual wage of $29,000 - well below award and industry standard rates - for working 60-hour weeks. Bibo said they were also abused and threatened with deportation.
The Federal Magistrates Court has ordered Holy Grail to pay $70,000 in unpaid wages, while decisions are still to be announced on wage recoveries from Pangaea and Zeffirellis.
Those three restaurants are also being further prosecuted and face possible penalties of hundreds of thousands of dollars over other breaches of the law.
None of this action would have occurred without the union's vocal and vigorous campaign, or the Filipinos' courage to stand up for their rights, said Bibo.
"Unfortunately, exploitation in the hospitality industry is still widespread, despite all the publicity this case has attracted," said Bibo.
Hospitality workers are commonly paid as little as $10 an hour, he said.
"Employers just seem to have trouble with the concept of paying people correctly."
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