|Issue No 83||09 February 2001|
Korean Worker Bashed for Questioning Wages
By Amanda Tatersall
Police are investigating allegations that a Korean national was bashed by his employer after questioning the wages he was being paid.
CFMEU construction division secretary Andrew Ferguson says the assault, which occurred in Sydney this week, shows Triad-related violence in the building industry has reached disturbing levels.
The victim of the assault was one of four Korean tilers, unfairly dismissed by their sub-contractor who came to the CFMEU for help and support.
The next day, the CFMEU called a stop work meeting at their job to investigate the conditions and wages of all the workers, at the same time facilitating negotiations with the contractors regarding their sacking.
At 10pm that night the workers were confronted at their home by their employer who threatened to have their visa's revoked, to take their lives if they ever contacted the CFMEU again. He then struck one of the worker's on the head with a stone, an attack that resulted in the worker being taken to hospital.
In representations made by the police to the union and the workers the next day, it was uncovered that their violent subcontractor was a known thug - previously involved in underworld activity.
Ferguson says the incident is a reminder of the world of exploitation that exists without the protection offered by both unions and the law.
"For migrant workers, and especially those who either are on a temporary visas or have no visa, their experience of Australia is often a mixture of oppression and abuse," he says.
"What is clear is that these workers need the protection and representation that is only possible through unions."
He says the union movement needs to develop links with migrant communities, such as the CFMEU's link with the Korean community to ensure that this form of exploitation can be stamped out.
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Last Modified: 15 Nov 2005