Dartbridge denies discrimination, saying it paid over award rates

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Dartbridge denies discrimination, saying it paid over award rates

A company which allegedly mistreated two Filipino workers who are suing it for discrimination has defended its actions in the Qld Anti-Discrimination Tribunal, saying it was paying the workers above the award rate.

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A company which allegedly mistreated two Filipino workers who are suing it for discrimination has defended its actions in the Qld Anti-Discrimination Tribunal, saying it was paying the workers above the award rate.

Brisbane-based Dartbridge Welding Pty Ltd is facing legal action this week over claims it underpaid 40 Filipino workers, forced them to live in unsatisfactory conditions and threatened to deport them if they complained to the union.

All were employed on AWAs and had been brought into the country by Dartbridge on 457 work visas.

Sacked

Jun Ramirez and Roy Yabut are now suing Dartbridge for racial discrimination on the grounds that they were paid only $27,000 of a promised $41,000 salary, were charged $175 per week to live eight-to-a-house, and were eventually sacked after joining the union.

Representing himself in the tribunal, Dartbridge Manager, Wayne Harrison said the company was struggling to make money and had applied to bring in a total of 100 foreign workers over two years under the 457 scheme and hire them out to other factories at a profit.

'Dartbridge had to do something to survive,' Harrison told the tribunal yesterday. 'It was as the Liberal Party had in mind with WorkChoices - it was a chance to turn around the manufacturing industry in Australia and be competitive on a global scale.'

Unable to attract local labour due to a domestic skills shortage, Dartbridge held two recruitment seminars in Manila as part of an 'Australia Needs Skills' jobs expo arranged by the Federal Government.

'Treated like Australians'

Ramirez told the hearing on Monday: 'We were told that we are going to be treated just like Australians are treated.'

However, when they got to Australia they found they were living in a house 'only good for five or six persons (but) there were eight of us living in the house here'.

Harrison yesterday denied the allegations, saying several other Dartbridge staff were employed on similar workplace contracts, which included a flat rate of $21.26 an hour - about $6 more than the State award - which included overtime and annual leave.

He said the AWAs had passed a 'no-loss' fairness test and had been signed off by the Department of Immigration before the guest workers were allowed into the country.

Under questioning from Harrison, Yabut accepted that the $175 a week rental charge included transport between work and home.

The case is continuing.

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