Country Labor Upper Hunter candidate weighs in on Scone abattoir exploitation

AN employer at an abattoir in Scone has been penalised over the deliberate exploitation of migrant workers, in a case of worker abuse, which could be prevented by stronger state laws. 

The former general manager of labour hire company Raying Holding Pty Ltd was fined $43,000 for exploiting 10 migrant workers – two of whom had become Australian citizens. 

The Scone employees were entry-level labourers in the abattoir’s slaughtering, boning and despatch operations and were underpaid a total of $41,674 between March 2011 and July 2013.

NSW Labor has again called for new wage theft laws to be aimed at employers who are getting away with flagrant abuses of the rights and entitlements of workers. 

The party has committed to implementing stronger deterrents, as current penalties are not tough enough. 

Labor boasts a five-point plan to eliminate the exploitation of vulnerable workers and crack down on businesses that underpay their staff. 

It is as follows: 

* A new wage theft law to criminalise the deliberate failure to pay wages and entitlements; 

* New laws to hold head franchisors accountable for the actions of franchisees; 

* Widened powers for workplace inspectors to undertake wage audits; 

* A licensing scheme for labour hire companies, forcing them to comply with labour laws and ensuring they provide safe, fair and reasonable work conditions; and 

* New laws to protect Sunday penalty rates in all state awards and agreements. 

“Vulnerable Upper Hunter workers are being cheated out of a staggering amount of wages by crooked bosses and it has to stop,” Country Labor’s candidate for Upper Hunter Martin Rushsaid.

“A Labor Government would see dodgy employers pay correct wages and entitlements to staff or face the consequences.”

His comments were backed up by Shadow Minister for Industrial Relations Adam Searle.

“It’s clear that the systematic exploitation of workers continues to impact employees all around the state,” he said.

“We need stronger laws and better enforcement, because there are still a number of unscrupulous employers that aren’t getting the message. 

“NSW Labor will deliver a new wage theft law to criminalise the deliberate failure to pay wages and other entitlements.”