While the Morrison government is seeking to pass the “ensuring integrity” bill to deal with unions, Labor believes there should be a bill to fight wage theft by companies.
Labor senator Tony Sheldon says the government should restore the rights of unions through an “ensuring company integrity bill” to enable the inspection of a firm’s books to investigate the theft of wages and superannuation.
Senator Sheldon argues company book inspection by registered union officials would require every business – from restaurant chains to airports – to be held accountable for correctly paying their staff, contractors and all labour in the supply chain.
“Sunlight is the best disinfectant, so if the Morrison government is serious about fighting wage and super theft he will remove any barriers to holding employers to account,” the NSW senator said in a statement on Wednesday.
“Under this government’s watch, wage and super theft has become a business model across Australia.”
Senator Sheldon, a former national secretary of the Transport Workers’ Union, says Australia also needs an ensuring company integrity bill to protect those companies that do the right thing.
“Companies that play by the rules and pay their staff fairly should not have to compete with companies who steal from their workers,” he said.
He points to the recent George Calombaris case as shining a light on the vast scale of wage theft with the celebrity chef found guilty of not paying $7.8 million in wages to his staff.
Industry Super also estimates 2.8 million Australian workers have $3.6 billion in superannuation stolen each year.
Prior to 1996, and the election of the Howard coalition government, unions had the right to inspect workplace records on behalf of all workers in a workplace.