Beware Wage Gougers: International students at particular risk

wage gougers international students
Image: Working Women's Centre SA Inc

Miles Heffernan says a recent incident at Adelaide’s Gouger Street demonstrates the particular vulnerability of international students to wage gougers. However, as he explains, Australian laws provide protections for all employees in this country, regardless of their residency status.

Recent viral footage of an incident at Adelaide’s Fun Tea Cafe highlighted the issue of wage theft among international students. In the video, a woman is seen making claims about wage theft at the business. A man denies her claims. However, another man then strikes the woman across the face. He kicks the woman to the ground and she strikes her head on a table. Another woman who rushes to assist her is thrown on top of her. Meanwhile, fearful customers shuffle their children out of harm’s way.

Paramedics treated the 20-year-old victim at the scene before taking her to hospital. Police consequently arrested a 39-year-old man over the assault.

Women’s Working Centre

The owners of Fun Tea Cafe later posted a notice claiming the assault occurred because of a previous dispute the female employee had with the customer who assaulted her.

However, the Women’s Working Centre rejected that claim. The South Australian NGO is representing both the victim and another female employee of the store.

“Our clients are victims of wage theft and in this respect, they are considering their position.”

Jackie Chen, from the SA Labour Info Hub, organised rallies outside the store in Adelaide’s Gouger St.

He said some worker’s in Adelaide’s Chinatown earned as little as $5 an hour.

“Especially with the background of workers, international students, they are not fluent in English and they don’t know how to find support.

“We urge the Australian Government to look into these issues.

“We must sort this out. It’s a disaster. It’s been going on for decades.”

National Minimum Wage

The minimum wage in Australia is $19.84 an hour, or $753.80 for a 38-hour week. Casual employees get at least a 25 per cent loading on top of that.

However, some employers are wage gougers who steal wages and entitlements from their employees.

They do this in various ways such as:

— paying less than the minimum hourly rate
— failing to pay penalty rates, overtime and allowances
— taking inappropriate deductions from wages
— refusing to allow leave
— demanding wages be paid back in ‘cash-back’ schemes
— paying employees in cash ‘off the books’
— demanding unpaid work experience or internships

If you feel your lawful wages are being gouged contact Industrial Relations Claims or ring Ring 1800FORKED (1800367533).

If you’re getting screwed at work, don’t take it lying down.

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Miles Heffernan

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