|Issue No 86||02 March 2001|
Five Star Exploitation at Regent
By Andrew Casey
The Sydney Regent Hotel has been accused of being unscrupulous, after it was revealed the hotel was not paying Australian award rates to Indonesian and Hong Kong workers flown in to work at their up-market hotel.
" Multinational companies such as the Regent Hotel chain are flying cheap labour around the world with no respect for local labour laws, pay or working conditions," Ian West, NSW Labor MLC, told State Parliament.
"Australian employment opportunities are being eroded by unscrupulous multinational companies using cheap third world labour in a deregulated world market," Ian West said.
Eleven housekeepers from Indonesia and Hong Kong are working at the 5-star Regent Hotel in Sydney - and being paid Indonesian and Hong Kong wages.
The housekeepers are in Australia for three, six and some for twelve months, living in closely monitored rooms on the 7th floor of the hotel in George St , Sydney.
When an LHMU organiser attempted to talk with some of the Indonesian workers today they were quickly scurried away.
" Immigration Minister, Phil Ruddock, should investigate how the Regent Hotel got permission to import cheap labour," Mark Boyd of the LHMU Hotel Union said.
" Getting the go-ahead to import housekeepers is a con on the Australian people.
" The Regent is topping up these slave wages with a $100 a week allowance as well as providing all meals, accommodation and laundry."
An Indonesian housekeeper in Jakarta receives about $80 a week. Most of this $80 income comes from guests' tips. An Australian housekeeper would receive about $ 442 a week - plus tips.
This is the second time the Regent Hotel has been caught bringing in cleaners and house-keepers to work at their Sydney hotel.
The last time, in the lead up to the Sydney Olympics, the hotel claimed - despite union protestations - that they were being paid Australian wages.
Nine of the eleven workers are from Indonesia ( two women and seven men ) and the other two are female housekeepers normally employed at the Regent Hotel in Hong Kong.
The LHMU Hotel Union is demanding these workers be paid award rates and have the right to the protection of a union.
" The Regent Hotel in Jakarta has a good, strong, independent union, " Mark Boyd, the NSW Assistant Branch Secretary of the LHMU Hotel Union, said.
" Our sister organisation in Indonesia has asked us to keep an eye out for their members while they are in Australia - to see if we can protect and improve the rights of these workers.
" The Howard Government has handed out these work visas because the hotel claimed they are unable to fill housekeeping positions within Australia.
" There are plenty of unemployed Sydney people who have the skills and would love a job at the Regent Hotel. It is just that the Regent is not committed to looking for them, and is not committed to providing the appropriate training and experience.
" This is the ugly side of globalisation which our union will expose - and fight. "
The Regent Hotel is part of the Canadian-owned Four Seasons chain with 55 sites around the globe. The housekeepers come from Regent hotels in Jakarta and Hong Kong.
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Legal: Workers Without Rights
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International: Dispatch from the Dispossessed
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Economics: Business Power and Mobility
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History: The Spoilers and the Split
The Movement, Groupers, the DLP and The Doc. All have been blamed in various ways for the ALP split in the 1950s, ensuring the ALP was kept out of federal government until 1972. Can One Nation return the favour?
Review: The New Hard Politics
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