Job losses — threats and fears


Job losses — threats and fears

Demand for right pay brought threat of sacking: Ombudsman; Cadbury workers fear job losses in takeover.


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Demand for right pay brought threat of sacking: Ombudsman; Cadbury workers fear job losses in takeover.
Demand for right pay brought threat of sacking: Ombudsman
A Brisbane physiotherapy clinic is being prosecuted for allegedly threatening to sack an employee for demanding she be paid her legal entitlements; and in Tasmania workers have been reimbursed thousands of dollars after underpayments.
Facing court is Maleha Newaz Pty Ltd, which trades as Physio Plus Physiotherapy and Sports Clinic in Carindale. The company’s sole director is Maleha Newaz.
The Fair Work Ombudsman is also prosecuting Newaz’s husband Saba Ahammad, who is secretary of Maleha Newaz Pty Ltd and is involved in running the clinic.
Documents lodged in the Federal Magistrates Court in Brisbane allege that in late-2008, a casual receptionist at the clinic obtained information from authorities that suggested she was being paid below what she was entitled to.
Wanted wages re-evaluated
The receptionist forwarded this information to her employer and asked that her wages be re-evaluated.
It is alleged that on 6 November 2008 Ahammad sent the receptionist an email stating that her wages would not be increased and threatening to dismiss her if she pursued the matter with authorities to secure back-pay.
The receptionist resigned in early 2009 and then lodged an underpayment complaint with the Fair Work Ombudsman. Inspectors investigated and negotiated for Maleha Newaz Pty Ltd to voluntarily back pay her $7090.
Fair Work Ombudsman Executive Director Michael Campbell said the Agency has launched legal action because the circumstances of the alleged threat to dismiss the receptionist constitute a serious breach of workplace law.
Maleha Newaz Pty Ltd and Ahammad were allegedly each involved in committing one breach. The maximum penalty per breach is $33,000 for the company and $6600 for Mr Ahammad.
The Fair Work Ombudsman is also seeking a Court Order for compensation of $5482 for the receptionist for lost wages following her resignation. The case is listed for a directions hearing on 10 February.
$10,400 for Tas shop assistant
In Tasmania, two small general stores, a bakery and a tourist park on the state’s north-west coast have been asked to back pay some of their staff thousands of dollars after investigations by the Fair Work Ombudsman.
In one case, a female shop assistant has been reimbursed $10,400 after Fair Work inspectors discovered the employer had failed to pay the woman the correct hourly rate, weekend penalty rates or public holiday rates.
In a separate case, a husband-and-wife working at a tourist park have been back paid a total of $4300 after lodging a complaint with the Fair Work Ombudsman after their employment was terminated.
Inspectors found the employer had short-changed the couple by paying a flat rate of pay that did not include weekend and public holiday penalty rates.
Other recent recoveries include $4200 for a 21-year-old employee at a bakery who had been underpaid her correct hourly rate since she joined the business as a trainee when she was 17.
The bakery was sold while inspectors were investigating the case but, after discussions with the Fair Work Ombudsman, has reimbursed the outstanding wages.
Flat rate for teenager
A 19-year-old casual shop assistant has also been repaid $3500 because of underpayments since she started working for the store when she was 16.
The teenager was paid a flat hourly rate which did not take account of penalty rates, overtime or weekend rates.
When Fair Work inspectors identified the problem, the employer quickly rectified the matter and is now paying the staff member her correct entitlements.
Cadbury workers fear job losses in takeover
Cadbury workers in Australia are fearful for their jobs following news that the confectionery make is being taken over by food giant Kraft.
Kraft has agreed to pay $20 billion for the company and will have to borrow a large portion of it. Cadbury employs around 1000 people in its factories in Victoria and Tasmania.
AMWU acting national secretary Jenny Dowell said the higher the debt level, the higher the pressure to cut costs.
Fewer workers do more
‘You try to get fewer workers to do more,’ she said.
The union is worried that ‘cost savings’ promised by Kraft will mean job losses in Australia.
Dowell said Cadbury employs between 200 and 300 staff at its Ringwood plant, another 150 at its Scoresby facility and around 600 at its biggest factory at Claremont, Tasmania.
She said the AMWU was concerned that jobs could be sent overseas — a process already started by Cadbury when it sent 170 jobs to New Zealand in 2008 as part of its ‘centres of excellence’ program.
‘We have absolutely no inkling as to what the intentions are of Kraft,’ she said.
Cadbury Australia spokesman Daniel Ellis said it was too early to tell what impact the takeover would have on its Australian operations.
‘From our point of view, all we're focusing on is business as usual,’ he said.
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