A Melbourne pizza manufacturer has been accused of underpaying migrant workers by an astounding $1 million and subjecting them to racial abuse.
The United Workers Union has commenced legal action in the Federal Court on behalf of 21 former workers.
Workers paid unlawful flat rates
Della Rosa is one of Australia’s largest supermarket pizza manufacturers.
The United Workers Union claims the company paid their workers unlawful flat rates and failed to pay them proper overtime, shift loadings and public holiday rates.
The Union says the wage theft goes back to 2013, with some workers allegedly owed as much as $60,000.
“Exploitation of migrant workers and wage theft was part of the day-to-day business,” the union’s Susie Allison told reporters at the Federal Court on Wednesday.
“They’ve been called animals and (subjected to) blatant statements like ‘we don’t like Indians here’.”
‘I was exploited’
Vikram Singh worked at Della Rosa for three years and says he is owed tens of thousands of dollars.
“I was exploited by Della Rosa and threatened with losing my job when I tried to speak out,” he said in a statement on Wednesday.
“I won’t be silent any longer and I am proud to see my case in the Federal Court today and to be seeking justice alongside my workmates.”
Fellow former Della Rosa worker Sunil Kumar said he was bullied out of the company for joining the union and when he left in 2017, he was not paid out any of his entitlements because the company said it had lost his records.
Migrant workers vulnerable
Industrial advocate Miles Heffernan from Fair Work Act Claims said migrant workers are particularly vulnerable to exploitation.
“Many workers from overseas are not aware of their workplace rights, and even if they are, they are often afraid to speak out because they will lose their job, or their visa and the chance to stay in Australia,” he said.
“This makes them perfect for exploitation by unscrupulous employers who want to rip them off.”
If you have not been paid your proper wages and entitlements, including superannuation, we can help.
For professional advice – please call our specialist team at Fair Work Act Claims on
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