The owners of a Gloria Jeans cafe franchise in Melbourne have been fined $110,500 for underpaying staff for almost two years.
They also have to back pay $83,566 to 22 underpaid staff, many of them international students. Inspectors from the Fair Work Ombudsman found the casual staff were paid flat hourly rates of $8 – $10, and workplace laws on providing meal breaks and payslips were also breached.
The owners of the Caulfield franchise – Tsinman Fu of Clayton and Ping Ostrovskih of Rowville – were fined $17,500 and $13,000 respectively.
Their business was also fined $80,000, when the case came before the Federal Circuit Court. The judge said a “conscious decision was made to reduce wages when the business was not producing sufficient income” and the owners were “well aware of their obligations and the seriousness of those obligations”. The underpayment occurred from mid 2011 to early 2013.
This is the second case to be reported in a week of employers underpaying staff. Last week it emerged that immigrant workers at the Bomaderry ethanol plant in New South Wales had been underpaid and exploited by the plant’s operator, Manildra Group.
The Construction, Forestry, Mining and Energy Union (CFMEU) said underpayment and exploitation of workers was a countrywide problem.
“This is a deliberately complicated web of companies across the country set up to hide what is outrageous exploitation of vulnerable workers,” CFMEU national secretary Michael O’Connor said.
“The government needs to blow it wide open by urgently investigating every part of the Manildra Group, the Chia Tung Development Corporation that employs the workers, and then every sub-contractor and migration agent involved. It should also publicly disclose these entities and how many workers each sponsors.
“The Manildra group has donated $285,604 to the Liberal National Party over the past two years, making it one of the biggest donors. We hope that doesn’t prevent the new Minister from urgently stamping out what amounts to modern day slavery.”
– with AAP