‘Complex corporate structure’ hits abattoir workers in the pocket

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‘Complex corporate structure’ hits abattoir workers in the pocket

Federal Parliament has been told that at least 23 abattoir workers in northern New South Wales are owed tens of thousands of dollars after they were sacked and not paid their entitlements. Meanwhile, a Perth Japanese restaurant has admitted to underpaying 66 workers $31,000 and faces tens of thousands of dollars in fines.

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Federal Parliament has been told that at least 23 abattoir workers in northern New South Wales are owed tens of thousands of dollars after they were sacked and not paid their entitlements. Meanwhile, a Perth Japanese restaurant has admitted to underpaying 66 workers $31,000 and faces tens of thousands of dollars in fines.
 
Breaches by abattoir
 
Janelle Safin, the Member for Page, told the House of Representatives that the men turned up for work in late November and early December last year to be told by ‘embarrassed’ foremen they were out of a job.
 
She said they were given a week’s pay and ‘thrown out onto Armidale Road’.
 
Got nothing
 
‘Appallingly, they did not receive their rightful entitlements: termination pay, redundancy, annual leave and long service — nothing,’ she said.
 
‘Coming up to Christmas, with mortgages to service, bills to pay and presents to buy, this was a very cruel, bloody-minded and gutless way to treat employees, some of whom had been veterans of the slaughter floor.’
 
Safin said the workers had told her they were employed by Tempus Holdings Pty Ltd, a labour-hire company that provided labour to abattoir owner Stuart Ramsey’s company Ramsey Food Processing Pty Ltd.
 
She said the sacked workers were informed in writing that Tempus Holdings would on 28 November 2008 cease to be a labour-hire company supplying labour for Ramsey Food Processing Pty Ltd.
 
‘Silence and stonewalling’
 
Safin said the local newspaper, The Daily Examiner, has repeatedly asked Stuart Ramsay, Tempus Holdings director Michael Considine and their solicitors about the complex corporate structure attached to the abattoir.
 
'The Daily Examiner’s inquiries have been met by silence and stonewalling,’ she said.
 
‘I have twice written to Mr Ramsey, on 12 December and 12 January, on behalf of my constituents seeking clarification on exactly who is responsible for paying the sacked workers their outstanding entitlements, but I have had no response to date.’
 
Safin said one worker could be owed $40,000 in entitlements, and others were owed $20,000, $5000 and $3000.
 
Unauthorised pay deductions
 
She said the man owed $20,000 had lodged a claim with the Workplace Ombudsman against Tempus Holdings for unauthorised pay deductions and believes this was the reason for his dismissal.
 
Safin said she had arranged free legal advice for the workers and had raised the matter with IR Minister Julia Gillard.
 
She said the Workplace Ombudsman was now conducting a high priority investigation into the matter.
 
Morally responsible
 
‘I am encouraging more affected workers to come forward and provide evidence so that they can recover what is rightfully theirs and perhaps discourage rogue employers out there from running roughshod over other workforces in regional Australia,’ Safin said.
 
‘I do not care what tricky, albeit legal, company arrangements may have been put in place, the person morally and ethically responsible for paying these workers their entitlements is the person who owns the abattoir —Stuart Ramsey.’
 
 
Japanese restaurant to be fined over $31,000 underpayments
 
Meanwhile, a Perth Japanese restaurant has admitted to underpaying 66 workers $31,000 and faces tens of thousands of dollars in fines.
 
After two audits and several complaints, the Shimizu restaurant finally admitted the underpayments to the restaurant workers, including young international students with limited English.
 
A Workplace Ombudsman investigation found the workers were not paid entitlements including wages, allowances and annual leave.
 
Workplace Ombudsman WA state director Leigh Quealy said some workers had been required to complete 20 hours of unpaid ‘work experience’ before they commenced paid employment.
 
Workers were also found to have been underpaid casual loadings, weekend penalty rates, wages and laundry allowances, while accrued annual leave was not paid to workers on termination.
 
Quealy said Golden Maple and CityTeam, which employed staff, had only rectified the underpayments after the audits and complaints.
 
The two companies face charges that carry a maximum penalty of $33,000 for each breach of the Workplace Relations Act, and a director of both companies, Lawrence Chia, faces a maximum penalty of $6600 for each breach.
 
The Federal Court action has been adjourned to a penalty hearing set for 23 April 2009.
 
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