KASAMA Vol. 20 No. 2 / April-May-June 2006 / Solidarity Philippines Australia Network

Liquor Handlers And Miscellaneous Union (LHMU)


CLEAN START LogoClean Start Campaign targets AMP in Brisbane

Brisbane cleaners gathered outside Santos House in Brisbane’s CBD on Thursday 18 May 2006 to inform tenants of the building the conditions they work under to keep their workplaces clean.

Santos House is owned by AMP, and the action was held on the day of its Annual General Meeting in Sydney.

Similar actions were held in 10 different cities in Australia and New Zealand with the biggest held in Sydney. The cleaners were there to inform patrons that the owner of the building was one of many companies who should revisit the unfair conditions that cleaners have to work under in their building.

Santos House is considered to be one of Brisbane’s finest commercial office CBD real estate sites. The blue chip tenants of Santos House require a quality work environment to build on their corporate image. Tenants gladly accepted the leaflets from cleaners with banners calling for a Clean Start: Fair Deal for Cleaners.

“We know AMP did come and talk to us, so today was about informing the tenants of the building the wages and conditions we work under to keep their workspaces clean and hygenic,” Crirlo Stephen, a Brisbane cleaner said.

Cleaners in Santos House, and many other high rises in Australia and New Zealand:

The latest protest outside Santos House is just part of the ongoing Clean Start: Fair Deal for Cleaners campaign.

More actions will be held in the lead up to International Cleaners Day on June 15 this year.


Filipino hospitality guest worker wins apology from Holy Grail

14 June 2006

The LHMU and The Holy Grail advise that the dispute between them has been successfully and amicably resolved. The Holy Grail proprietor Mr. Ian Meldrum has apologised for any slight against Dario De Guzman, or for upsetting him whilst he was employed by The Holy Grail.

The dispute arose from complaints made by skilled Filipino Chef Dario De Guzman concerning his pay and treatment whilst working for The Holy Grail. [see article below]

ACT LHMU Branch Organiser David Bibo said that “Our member is pleased to have this matter resolved to his satisfaction, and is looking forward to continuing his work as a chef in Canberra.”


ACTU Prez joins guest worker protest at Canberra’s Holy Grail

05 May 2006

A Canberra restaurant regularly visited by politicians, lobbyists and senior public servants will be targeted by the ACTU and LHMU today for the way it mistreated a Filipino hospitality worker brought to Australia under an unfair Government guest worker program.

In January the LHMU Hospitality Union calculated Dario De Guzman was owed more than $10,000 but the owners of the Holy Grail Company have refused to pay.

“The Holy Grail - an icon restaurant in the national capital - continues to deny this money is owed, because to admit publicly that they have withheld money to which Dario is genuinely entitled would look very bad for them,” David Bibo, LHMU Hospitality Union organiser said today.

“Instead they are hiding behind their company structure, and not admitting that they have “farmed out” Dario to other restaurants in breach of their 457 visa sponsorship obligations.”

Dario De Guzman is just one of about 30 Filipino chefs and cooks imported to work in Canberra restaurants on overseas worker visas. A number of the Filipinos came to the LHMU for help when they found they were being underpaid, forced to work long hours and mistreated by their employers.

An official investigation recently found in favour of the workers – with some having had their wages effectively cut by half because of unauthorised expenses being deducted and non-payment of Award entitlements.

At the end of last year the LHMU Hospitality Union triggered off, and led, a vigorous protest campaign in Canberra against several swish restaurants for the way they have misused a Federal Government guest worker program.

One Canberra restaurant has now paid up what it owed a different Filipino hospitality worker brought out to Australia under the guest worker program.

The LHMU Hospitality Union has won the support and praise of Filipino community leaders, religious leaders and politicians for taking a tough public stance on the issue and forcing the Federal Government to act because of their constant campaigning.

The Australian Federal Police is still investigating kidnapping allegations made by one of the Filipino chefs - the LHMU has called on the AFP to speed up their investigation.

“Dario needs this money now because his wife and 2 young children back in the Philippines rely on him. His family cannot wait for the months it will take for the courts to deal with this matter,” David Bibo said.

“If Dario began work in Australia today it is highly likely he would be working under the harsh new and radical workplace laws introduced by the Federal Government in March,” ACTU President, Sharan Burrow said.

“That would mean he would be forced off an award and onto an individual employment contract AWA - on a take it or leave it basis.

“This AWA - under the regulations - would be highly likely to have no provision for overtime. The majority of Dario’s current wage claim is for overtime penalties.

“Community pressure is needed to help Dario get his wages back and to show that fair-minded Australians will not stand for the exploitation of overseas workers under the Howard Government’s temporary migration program.

“We call on politicians, lobbyists, journalists and the senior public servants that regularly visit the Holy Grail restaurant and nightclub to think twice before wining or dining there,” Ms Burrow said.