Harsher Penalties for Bosses Exploiting Workers
1 February 2016 at 11:29 am
Opposition Leader Bill Shorten has promised to crack down on “unscrupulous employers” who exploit workers.
Shorten said if Labor was elected to government it would introduce harsher penalties for employers to protect workers and there is a level playing field for all workers in Australia.
The proposed measures would include strengthening legal protections for a worker’s entitlements, giving the Fair Work Ombudsman more power to pursue employers who liquidate their companies in order to avoid paying the money they owe their workers, and introducing reforms to ensure that temporary overseas workers are not being exploited and underpaid.
Shorten said he would also crack down on the underpayment of workers, with “significantly increased penalties for employers who deliberately and systemically avoid paying their employees properly”.
It comes as the Fair Work Ombudsman recovered $22.3 million in back-pay for over 11,000 workers in the 2014-15 financial year.
In announcing the proposed reforms, Shorten pointed to recent high-profile examples of worker exploitation including Myer sub-contractors employing cleaners on fake contracts, the exploitation of 7-Eleven workers involving underpayment of wages and doctoring of pay records, Pizza Hut delivery drivers being paid as little as $6 an hour and the “widespread exploitation” of workers in Baiada Group food processing factories.
“In 2015 we saw too many instances of workers’ rights trampled, not just by fly-by-night operations, but by household names,” Shorten said.
“Labor’s Fair Work Taskforce have held meetings with workers throughout the country who have provided evidence of the breadth of this problem.”
Media reports have claimed that on Tuesday the Turnbull Government will reintroduce rejected legislation to bring back the Australian Building and Construction Commission (ABCC) as the industrial watchdog on the construction industry following the trade union Royal Commission.
“We will consult employers and their representatives, workers and unions on the scale of the increase to penalties to ensure there is an appropriate deterrent in place to protect workers from unscrupulous employers,” Shorten said.
“Labor’s package of reforms builds on our strong record of protecting wages and conditions and cracking down on worker exploitation.”
Labor’s full plan can be found here.