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Not ‘worth’ be­ing paid the min­i­mum wage rates

The Gold Coast Bulletin - - FRONT PAGE - AMANDA ROBBEMOND

FOR­MER oper­a­tors of a Gold Coast car wash busi­ness have been fined for un­der­pay­ing 59 work­ers al­most $150,000 be­cause they were not “worth” it.

One Korean worker on a 457 skilled worker visa was forced to pay back $21,685 of her wages via a cash­back scheme, the Fair Work Om­buds­man will to­day re­veal. The two man­agers were fined $42,432 and $26,520 for the breaches, which oc­curred in 2012-2014.

FOR­MER oper­a­tors of a Gold Coast car wash busi­ness have been fined af­ter they un­der­paid 59 work­ers more than $147,000 be­cause they were not “worth” it.

Ex­presso Car­wash Cafe for­mer man­ag­ing di­rec­tor Richard Sang Kyun Kim and for­mer gen­eral man­ager Chao ‘Tommy’ Liu were fined $42,432 and $26,520 re­spec­tively for the breaches be­tween 2012 and 2014.

The busi­ness has two out­lets, in South­port and Labrador.

Shortly af­ter le­gal ac­tion com­menced, their busi­ness Ausinko Pty Ltd was liq­ui­dated.

Ex­presso Car­wash Cafe is now owned by a sep­a­rate com­pany. There is no sug­ges­tion the cur­rent own­ers were in­volved with the breaches.

Fair Work Om­buds­man San­dra Parker said Kim and Liu’s con­duct was de­signed to ex­ploit em­ploy­ees, in­clud­ing those es­pe­cially vul­ner­a­ble, such as visa hold­ers.

“Any em­ployer who tries to profit from un­der­pay­ing mi­grant work­ers should take note that we will act to en­sure such con­duct is met with se­ri­ous con­se­quences. All work­ers in Aus­tralia have the same rights and pro­tec­tions at work, re­gard­less of cit­i­zen­ship or visa sta­tus,” Ms Parker said.

One Korean worker on a 457 skilled worker visa spon­sored by Ausinko was forced to pay back $21,685 of her wages via a cash­back scheme.

She was in­structed to pay back wages to the com­pany via weekly cash pay­ments be­tween $111 to $715.

This meant she was left with be­tween $15 to $18.50 an hour for the work she per­formed de­spite her con­tract as a full-time cook stat­ing she would be paid $49,330 an­nu­ally.

Be­tween Oc­to­ber 2012 and May 2014 she was un­der­paid $29,528.

Judge Michael Jar­rett said Kim and Liu im­posed that she “make re­pay­ments to (the com­pany) of part of her wages on the ba­sis that she might lose her job and her visa if she did not”.

He said it was a de­lib­er­ate strat­egy de­signed to main­tain the “ap­pear­ance of com­pli­ance with work­place and im­mi­gra­tion laws.”

Dur­ing in­ter­views with a Fair Work In­spec­tor, the pair in­di­cated the work­ers were not “worth” the min­i­mum award rates that ap­plied in Aus­tralia.

“Re­quests from his em­ploy­ees to be paid the amounts to which they were en­ti­tled caused (Liu) to be­come upset be­cause he ex­pected loy­alty from em­ploy­ees within ‘the Asian cul­ture’,” Mr Jar­rett said.

The other 58 work­ers were un­der­paid $117,775 col­lec­tively, with amounts rang­ing from $82 to $6329. Of these, 26 work­ers were un­der­paid at least $2000.

Pay slip laws were also bro­ken for 58 of the 59 em­ploy­ees.

In ad­di­tion to the fines, Kim and Liu were re­quired to com­plete the Hir­ing Em­ploy­ees course via the Fair Work Om­buds­man.

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