Filipino guest workers sue for racial, union discrimination

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Filipino guest workers sue for racial, union discrimination

Two Filipino workers are suing their former employer for discrimination on the basis of union membership and race, after they were employed on inferior AWAs.

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Two Filipino workers are suing their former employer for discrimination on the basis of union membership and race, after they were employed on inferior AWAs.

The five day trial, before the Queensland Anti-Discrimination Tribunal, begins in Brisbane today (Monday).

AMWU National Secretary, Dave Oliver, said Roy Yabut and Jun Ramirez, and another colleague, were sacked in October last year after joining the AMWU and complaining to Dartbridge Welding Director, Dennis Hickman, about their working conditions. 

At the time around 40 Filipino workers on 457 visas were employed by Dartbridge Welding.

Lower than market rate

Oliver said Dartbridge Welding had offered the workers individual contracts that gave the men an hourly rate of pay lower than the market rate, and left the men without effective access to overtime payments, penalties and holiday pay.

He said all 40 were paying inflated rent costs for accommodation to Dartbridge. The workers were brought to Australia on the promise of a one-year contract, but were employed as casuals who could be sacked without notice.

Threatened with deportation

The men allege they were threatened with deportation when they complained about their conditions.

‘This is a really important case, raising important issues which go to the heart of the employment terms of guest workers from the Philippines and similar countries,’ Oliver said. ‘Their case before the Tribunal is that they were asked to sign AWAs without first being given a copy of the AWA, they were employed at below market rates and without overtime, and they were asked to live eight people to a house and pay inflated rent, and all of this occurred because they were Filipino.

Important issues

‘The matters raised in this case will be relevant for all 457 visa holders, and the ability of employers to employ overseas workers at less than the going rate for Australians.

‘It raises important issues about the bad laws created by the Federal Government that have allowed this to occur, and made 457 visa holders vulnerable to exploitation.’

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