05 September 2006
An intense LHMU Hospitality Union campaign has led to a Canberra restaurant ending up in the Federal Court facing a possible fine of nearly $250,000 over its mistreatment of foreign guest workers.
Zeffirelli is one of several Canberra restaurants to be charged for failing to properly pay its workers, after a group of about 30 Filipino hospitality workers came to the union complaining about the slave-like conditions they were forced to endure after being brought to Australia.
Similar proceedings against another Canberra restaurant, Pangaea, were heard recenctly. In both cases, the Federal Magistrate, has reserved his decision.
“We first started raising these issues late last year. Our members are happy that we have finally got to this stage and will wait with interest the court results — as well as any other prosecutions against other Canberra restaurants,” David Bibo, Canberra LHMU Hospitality Union organiser said.
Government forced to reveal further hospitality rorts
Earlier this month the Federal Parliament was told that a shocking 164 workers were found to be underpaid by 48 Canberra restaurants.
These revelations came after a Government audit triggered by the LHMU Hospitality Union campaign on behalf of the Filipino guest workers.
The campaign has received widespread community support from senior religious identities, other Canberra community leaders, the Philippines Embassy and political leaders including Senator Kate Lundy who has raised the issue several times in Parliament.
11 August 2006
Federal Parliament was told this week that a shocking 164 workers were found to be underpaid by 48 Canberra restaurants.
The fresh revelations, after a Government audit triggered by an intense LHMU Hospitality Union campaign, has shown widespread job rorts in the industry.
“The revelations in Federal Parliament are unfortunately no surprise, we’ve been aware that workers in the hospitality industry are being underpaid,” David Bibo said.
Award rights being stripped away by WorkChoice laws
David Bibo says the results of the Government audit simply highlight the need for unions in the workplace.
The right to decent wages and conditions, which were protected by Awards, are now rapidly being stripped away by the Howard Government’s WorkChoice laws, David Bibo from the LHMU Hospitality Union said today.
“The Federal Government wants to deny unions the right to organise and protect members. They failed in this case, and will continue to fail, because working people will get more and more active in their unions. Working people will stand-up to the bully boy tactics which John Howard wants to unleash with his harsh new laws,” David Bibo said.
The Departmental audit, and the results, occurred after the LHMU Hospitality Union raised a whole range of complaints about the slave-like conditions forced onto underpaid skilled Filipino cooks and chefs. “These complaints were ignored by the Government for months,” David Bibo, from the LHMU Hospitality Union in Canberra said.
Embassy stepped in to show its support
“The Canberra community was behind us; the Phillippines Embassy even stepped in to support our campaign and wrote to John Howard’s people — but the employers and the Government kept denying that there was a problem. Then we got the Labor Party’s Senator Kate Lundy to raise these issues in the Senate and force Senator Vanstone to face the truth. The extent of underpayment in the ACT demonstrates the threat to working families if Award rights to decent minimum rates and conditions are stripped away from hospitality workers forced onto individual contracts,” David Bibo said.
Employers say: Want a job? – then accept cut-rate pay
“The Federal Government’s WorkChoice laws will see more and more Canberra restaurants trying to rip-off hospitality workers by ignoring the decent Award conditions and telling people if they want a job they must accept below-Award standard individual contracts,” David Bibo said.
Vanstone’s ‘own goal’
In an extraordinary ‘own goal’, a question in the Senate from a Liberal colleague prompted Senator Vanstone to launch a tirade attacking the union movement and Senator Kate Lundy who has raised these issues on behalf of the LHMU in parliament.
Thursday, 10 August 2006
“This was a pathetic attempt to distract attention from the massive embarrassment the Howard Government is obviously experiencing having been forced to investigate even more under-payment in 48 local restaurants.
“Senator Vanstone ought to be thanking Labor and the LHMU for bringing the issue of exploitation of skilled migrant workers to the Senate’s attention. She ought to be telling John Howard we need Awards to stay!
“The workers and their union, the LHMU, came to Labor out of frustration that their complaints to Office of Workplace Services (OWS) were NOT being acted upon.
“If the issue had not been raised in Parliament back in February, there is no way the OWS or the Minister would have stopped the exploitation, regardless of Senator Vanstone’s attempt to rewrite history to suit herself.
“The fact is that the poor management of the skilled migrant workers scheme (457 visa) and the Minister’s neglect and disinterest in this aspect of her portfolio has been embarrassingly exposed.
“It also disgusting hypocrisy that the Minister challenged the union to enforce the industry Award when it is the Howard Government’s extreme IR changes that have not only prevented unions from entering work places unannounced to inspect conditions, but have made it possible for employers to pay workers less than the Award through AWA’s!”
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