In recent times, there have been significant examples of exploitation of workers, especially migrant workers, in some non-unionised sectors of the workforce.
7-Eleven is the most spectacular example of this exploitation.
The SDA has set up a special hotline and is working in association with Maurice Blackburn solicitors to obtain backpay for the 7-Eleven workers who have been exploited.
Most importantly, the SDA and Maurice Blackburn have called on the Federal Government to grant an amnesty to overseas workers who may have breached their visa conditions by working longer hours than permitted by their visa.
Because they were underpaid, they needed to work long hours in order to make a reasonable amount of money.
The Federal Parliamentary Labor Party has promised to take steps if it is elected to Government at the next Federal election to protect workers from exploitation.
These steps will include:
- Cracking down on the underpayment of workers, with significantly increased penalties for employers who deliberately and systematically avoid paying their employees properly;
- Ramping up protections for workers from sham contracting, by strengthening legal protections for a worker’s entitlements, along with increasing penalties;
- Giving the Fair Work Ombudsman more power to pursue employers who liquidate their companies in order to avoid paying the money they owe their workers;
- Introducing reforms to ensure that temporary overseas workers are not exploited and underpaid, and that there is a level playing field for all workers in Australia.
The ALP will consult employers and their representatives, workers and unions on the scale of the increase to penalties to ensure there is an appropriate deterrent in place to protect workers from unscrupulous employers.