Labour Bites

Legal loophole

Chinese refugee, Fu Cong has been left in limbo after the organisation he works for went bankrupt leaving him with no benefits due to loopholes in the visa system.

Cong found a job in a printing company in suburban Melbourne however, unbeknown to its employees, the printing company was trading while insolvent and declared bankruptcy without warning in October last year. He was left with nothing more than a string of dishonored pay cheques and is owed about $5000 in unpaid wages and redundancy entitlements.

In 2012, the Australian government established the Fair Entitlement Guarantee (FEG), which protects the employees of companies which go bankrupt. Australian citizens and permanent residents are entitled to up to 13 weeks of unpaid wages, as well as any unpaid annual leave and redundancy pay. Migrant workers receive nothing.

Matt Kunkel, the director of the Migrant Workers Centre, says some companies that employed large numbers of migrants were deliberately using liquidation as a tactic to avoid paying entitlements, or forcing workers into accepting smaller settlements.

“There is no accountability for employers who can shut up shop and open up again the following day with a new name, wiping away tens or hundreds of thousands of dollars of worker entitlements. When caught underpaying staff, some employers have expressly threatened to go into liquidation as a tactic to force workers to accept a smaller settlement. This move is only available to employers because temporary migrant workers have no access to the FEG scheme to recover their unpaid entitlements.” (Source: The Guardian)

Building site blitz

A blitz on more than 700 building sites by SafeWork NSW found that about 44% of the scaffolding on them had parts missing, while unlicensed workers had altered or removed scaffolding components on 36% of sites.

The Minister for Better Regulation Kevin Anderson said the death of a Sydney apprentice sparked the latest review. Christopher Cassaniti, 18, was crushed to death when the scaffold he was working on at a Macquarie Park building site came down in April. His mother has become a workplace safety advocate since her son’s death and said change could not come quickly enough.

“We will be tightening laws, we will be coming after those that are doing the wrong thing” said the Minister, “the construction industry had been put on notice”. (Source: The New Daily)

At the top, real wages grow

The top 1% of high earners in the UK have enjoyed a 7.6% pay increase in real terms over the last two years, while the average worker’s pay rose by just 0.1% or two pence an hour.

A Trade Union Council (TUC) analysis of government hourly pay data between 2016 and 2018 shows that pay among the very top earners increased at a faster rate than any other group.

The TUC said that average pay in real terms, when adjusted for inflation, was still worth less in real terms than before the financial crisis continuing the biggest squeeze on wages since the end of the Napoleonic Wars.

Frances O’Grady, general secretary of the TUC, warned that the gap between the richest and everyone else will continue to widen under current government policy. (Source: The Guardian)

Not such a magic kingdom

Tourists scream at them, sexually harass them and in the most serious cases, physically attack them, according to law enforcement reports.

“Our cast members take great pride in making magic for guests, so it is always disturbing when something like this occurs,” said Disney spokeswoman Andrea Finger in a statement.

“Fortunately, it doesn’t happen very often, but when it does, we have multiple resources in place to protect our cast members’ wellbeing, including on-site law enforcement officers who respond, and are available to them.”

Among more than 50 incident reports are some shocking cases like the 23 year-old Chicago woman, angry because she didn’t have a FastPass, punched a Disney employee in the face and then began pushing buttons on the Tower of Terror ride.

A 23-year-old Parkland woman was arrested in 2015, although charges were later dropped, when she yelled racial insults, grabbed an employee’s arm twice and then tried to push past because she was told she couldn’t sit in the best seat on the Incredible Hulk Coaster.

Disney leaves it to individual employees to decide whether to press charges, but most don’t. (Source: herald

Compiled by

John Quessy

“As Secretary and Executive Editor, it’s been my pleasure to have submitted this column over the years, this being my 140th Labour bites for Newsmonth. I trust you’ve found this global industrial reporting of interest.”