Workers have today shared shocking stories of wage theft at the hands of some of the state’s high profile employers, as public hearings begin for the Queensland Parliament’s proposed new wage theft laws.
United Workers Union, which represents workers in industries rife with wage theft such as security, cleaning, food processing, hospitality and more, has been pushing for strong laws to be passed in Parliament to crack down on dodgy bosses using it as a business model.
The Parliamentary Inquiry has recognised the many ways workers can experience wage theft, including underpayment, unpaid trials, withholding super, sham contracting, expired agreements, and not paying penalty rates and other entitlements.
The Mantle Group is one high profile company that has been using wage theft as a business model for years, including at their Brisbane Pig ‘n’ Whistle venues.
Former Pig ‘n’ Whistle employee Declan Langlands was dismissed from the restaurant for refusing to personally pay for a customer who had not covered their own bill and went to the Young Workers Hub for help.
“When I started there, I had to sign a contract that meant I’d have my wages docked for any till imbalances,” Mr Langlands said.
“These deductions weren’t recorded anywhere on my payslips. The amounts shown on my payslips often didn’t add up to what was deposited into my bank account.
“At times, I was asked to hand over my own debit card to cover customers’ bills.
“All employees were paid the base rate of $24.36/hour, which was below what we were entitled to, even when we worked overtime on weekends and public holidays.
“When I was dismissed, it was done by a co-worker via a direct message on Instagram.
“It’s so important for these laws to go through because we need to put a stop to wage theft.”
Sunshine Coast hospitality worker Tara Small – a member of United Workers Union’s hospitality arm, Hospo Voice – said it was time for more to be done about wage theft.
“To get my first job in hospitality, when I was 18, I had to work unpaid as a ‘volunteer’. At my next job, I was paid $18 per hour with no penalty rates, and no super.
“I tried to fight for what I was owed. But I didn’t have proper payslips, I had no idea how to make my bosses pay, and I didn’t have the money to go to court. Eventually, I gave up.
“Working in hospitality is my passion, so I want to make sure wage theft doesn’t keep happening to me or anyone else.
“Hospo Voice members in Victoria have already fought to introduce tough laws to criminalise wage theft there earlier this year.
“Now we need the Queensland Parliament to pass strong laws too, so wage thieves go to jail, and it’s quick and easy to win back what we’re owed.”
Details of the Wage Theft Bill and a broadcast of the public hearing are available here.